What You Need to Know About PG&E’s Planned Blackouts


Rolling Blackouts Are Here.

You may have heard about rolling blackouts coming. You may have even experienced them already.

One thing is certain: PG&E customers are all at risk of homes and businesses losing power. Some may lose power for days at a time.

Here’s what you need to know about the PG&E blackouts:

“Why Are Rolling Blackouts Happening?”

It’s a public safety measure.

PG&E’s grid is old and in desperate need of repair. For decades, they ignored their infrastructure instead of maintaining and repairing it. This neglect has led to aging power line poles and transformers. When poles fall or transformers explode, they shoot off sparks.

Those sparks are incredibly dangerous. Our state’s recent droughts have left high amounts of dry brush. Electric sparks plus dry brush can lead to a larger fire, and lots of dry area can burn VERY quickly.

So, to prevent sparking more fires, PG&E will shut off power to entire areas during periods of high fire risk. Times of high winds are particularly dangerous, especially dry summer winds.

With no electricity flowing, the electrical systems won’t spark and start fires. PG&E will intentionally shut off your electrical power to prevent wildfires.

Preventing more fires is a top priority. Of course, the downside is that whole areas go without power for extended periods of time…

“What Areas Do the Blackouts Affect?”

Rural areas are most at risk during a wildfire. In the last couple years, Northern California has experienced the biggest and deadliest fires in our state’s history.

Small rural towns have been affected the most. But these wildfires have also hit suburbs of the bigger metro areas.

But the blackouts aren’t limited to just rural areas.

Due to the nature of the electrical grid, precision is difficult. High winds over in the East Bay could mean the entire city of San Francisco (across the bay) could lose power. The city alone has nearly a million people living, working, or visiting there.

In short: PG&E’s total coverage in Northern and Central California – millions of homes and businesses – is subject to rolling blackouts.

Additionally, Southern California Edison customers down south will also experience more blackouts than normal this year due to an increase in maintenance and repair. SoCal Edison is also playing catch-up after neglecting their equipment for decades, which led to the devastating Woolsey fire in Malibu in 2018.

“What Are the Dangers of Blackouts?”

Medical & Health

Those who rely on medical equipment are at serious risk in a blackout. This can include anyone who needs a dialysis machine or mechanical ventilator.

Outside the home, emergency first responders are also affected. So blackouts can have a very real, very serious impact on an area.

Lighting

While not immediately threatening, loss of lights can lead to accidental injury in the darkness. Large areas with no lights also tend to see spikes in unplanned crime rates.

Air Conditioning

Air conditioning simply will not work without power. Again, the first issue here is discomfort. But during a severe heat wave, people’s health is a very real concern, particularly for the elderly. According to the Los Angeles Times, hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Californians may find themselves in very serious situations this year.

Food Storage

You may also lose power for days at a time. That’s long enough for all the food and milk in your refrigerator to spoil. This poses yet another health risk, and costs you money.

Internet

You may not be able to charge your cell phone or laptop in a blackout. Wi-fi becomes unavailable, making distanced communication impossible for some. Without internet access, many businesses will lose huge sums of money. Many people will not be able to receive updates about the outage.

Physical and economic dangers are very real during a blackout. Please be sure to stay alert and be prepared.

“Will I Get Charged for Electricity During a Blackout?”

PG&E will charge for the electricity you use; no power means no charge during that time.

However, you’ll still get charged monthly flat fees that, according to their own spokesperson, go to pay executives and investors. They do this to maintain the appearance of profitability. Those fees will not be prorated.

Anyway, the money you could lose during a blackout may overshadow any savings or prorated fees.

So, yes, depending on the duration of the power outage and the circumstances of your situation, a blackout could cost you a lot of money.

“What Can Homeowners Do About Planned Rolling Blackouts?”

Install Solar Panels

Solar panels on your roof provide electricity directly to your home. They will help keep some power going during a blackout. They may not produce enough to let you keep everything running at the same time, but critical systems can stay powered. (Solar panels will also help you save money the rest of the year. Click here to speak with us about installing solar panels.)

Get Backup

Install a backup battery or a backup generator. We offer both. Talk to us!

Benefits of Solar Power for California Homeowners

Predictable Rates

California homeowners who lease a solar power energy system can lock in a low monthly rate for 25 years.

With a solar power purchase agreement (PPA), your price per kilowatt-hour stays steady and predictable. You can pay for electricity as you go, at a much lower rate!

If you want to buy a system, you can pay cash or you can finance. We’ll ensure your monthly payments remain low enough that you still save money each month. More Solar Pricing Info Here.

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Tax Credit

If you complete your solar installation before Dec. 31, 2019, you may be eligible for a 30% tax credit on the cost of your system. Read more here.

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