PG & NO E
MONOLOGUE WRITTEN BY CLYDE LEWIS
For years now, I have been warning everyone that rogue states could turn our country into a living hell by exploding a nuclear bomb in the atmosphere over America creating an EMP. The electromagnetic pulse from such a blast would fry our electrical circuits and transistors and put much of our grid out of operation.
But imagine if a power failure was not created by some hacker or some rogue state but the electric utility company in your state that is fledgling and worried that it could go bankrupt if some of their high tension wires spark a wildfire during a wind storm?
Scores of Northern California residents have now lost power for an extended period because the company that provides their electricity chose to shut down its infrastructure so it doesn’t start yet another catastrophic wildfire during high winds and low humidity.
PG&E, whose equipment sparked last year’s Camp Fire, which killed 86 people and destroyed the town of Paradise is on the verge of bankruptcy and in order to avoid any further fires that they could be responsible for they have cut power to thousands of customers.
Those customers are not happy, and for good reason: Losing power is a hassle for anyone, but it’s potentially deadly for those who rely on electrical medical devices. Businesses lose business, food spoils in warming fridges, and critical infrastructure goes offline. But this is no shot in the dark—meteorologists can predict where and when those winds will grow dire, so PG&E can target their shutoffs.
But no – they are shutting the whole thing down.
The power could be out for days some say nearly a week.
Of course, the Climate Change cultists are saying “told you so” but seriously using climate change as an excuse takes California off the hook.
You can blame this on the fact that California’s building habits and lack of planning for a place that that always seems to be burning. California has been born to burn with the conditions that have flared up every year – this has been consistent long before Al Gore drowned his first polar bear.
California’s wildfire problem grows from a clash of contrasts. In the atmosphere at this time of year, pressure builds up in air masses over the Great Basin, east of the state. At the same time, a low-pressure region takes shape near the coast. Because air tends to move from high- to low-pressure areas, winds start accelerating from the northeast toward the coast. The greater this pressure gradient, the stronger the winds.
As the winds move over the Sierra Nevada in eastern California, they flow like water over rocks in a stream, compressing and warming. Slicing through valleys, the winds gather more speed, desiccating the air.
At ground level, the warm air moving through the mountains sucks away whatever moisture might be left in the vegetation.
What’s left is a parched landscape that’s primed to burn, and winds of 60 or 70 miles per hour can speedily turn a spark into a fast-moving wildfire. Such was the case in last year’s campfire. Winds picked up embers and blew them perhaps a mile ahead of the main conflagration, setting a multitude of small fires throughout the town of Paradise, overwhelming firefighters.
Because meteorologists know why and when and where these winds form, they can use models to give perhaps a week’s warning of a major wind event, so claiming that this is because of Climate Change is silly as it is a tradition to prepare for this weather condition in California.
So PG&E is cutting off power in the particularly dangerous zones it has identified in Northern California, where high winds might rustle power lines and shower sparks onto the wind-parched vegetation below.
These are called tortured decisions but are they necessary? They are claiming that it will prevent a wildfire but the area could burn regardless and then what?
Power lines aside, the state plays host to a cabal of conspiring factors that make it a tinderbox. One is forest mismanagement — California simply hasn’t been clearing enough brush, which builds up year after year until it burns spectacularly. In recent decades, cities have been encroaching more onto the wilderness, putting them literally in the line of fire. This is particularly true in corridors where autumn winds accumulate, fanning flames.
It is sort of unprecedented for such a large utility doing this preemptively, and while PG& Now No E says that in the long run it will prevent major fires – preemptively cutting power to nearly 800,000 customers’ poses a great risk.
A utility like PG&E is mandated to provide power because doing so isn’t just a matter of modern conveniences—it can be a matter of life and death.
The elderly may rely more heavily on medical appliances and be more vulnerable to heatstroke without air conditioning. By preemptively cutting off power, you’re also potentially cutting off communication—if the power goes out and a wildfire starts and TVs and internet routers don’t work, people could be at risk. Electric water pumps too would go offline, potentially hampering firefighting efforts.
One thing people may not understand is if you turn off the power during an extreme weather event, even after the wind dies down you can’t just turn the power back on right away.
I have stated in the past that it is time to prepare and always be prepared by stalking up on food and water and I even offer an inexpensive way of doing it, however, I can acknowledge that there are elderly people on fixed incomes that may not be able to afford to stock up.
You’ve got to think of the little things, too, like opening your garage before a blackout in case a wildfire does come and you need to flee but your opener won’t work. If you have a generator, great but fire officials are saying that more generators humming along outdoors means more ways to spark the fires PG&E is trying to prevent.
Plunging millions of residents into darkness on purpose isn’t a good long term solution. But the serious question is “why?”
While the plan may potentially solve one problem for PG&E, it obviously creates another with residents, businesses, hospitals, and government facing blackouts. The last California Governor who authorized rolling blackouts was recalled by the voters.
After he signed off on $42 billion in vastly overvalued energy contracts in 2001, Gov. Gray Davis instituted random, rolling blackouts that created chaos and severe economic damage in many parts of the state.
It’s called the Public Safety Power Shutoff program, developed in cooperation with state utility regulators at the Public Utilities Commission. The utility shuts electricity on transmission and distribution lines in fire-prone areas during high fire-risk moments.
Those who are experiencing the outage are saying that this feels like a psychological operation to trigger something similar to what was seen in the movie “The Purge.” Ironically, the TV series of The Purge in its second season debuts on October the 15th.
Of course, something like a power outage could be horrible enough to warrant an abrupt changing of policies and how to establish order in an area that relies on its power grid for comfort. When comfort leaves, so does the sanity of the area where the blackouts occur.
It is important for the American people to realize that sixteen sectors of the U.S. economy deemed to make up the nation’s critical infrastructure rely on electricity.
Disabling or otherwise interfering with the power grid is unprecedented in California and there are at least 34 counties that are being affected.
There have been many times on my radio program where I have warned that our over-dependence on technology may be the very thing that can put us at a disadvantage. However, there are times when I speak about this subject, I get told that what I am doing is putting out pure hyperbole and that much of what I say regarding the failure of technology is nothing more than a headline grabber for ratings.
Well, the secret is out – I guess I am here to get you to listen to my show and so yes ratings do help. It is true I need to find a grabbing headline or story that gets you to think about what is going on outside of the political claptrap that somehow works to frame the network narrative.
But it is not exaggeration or overstatement to inform you that we are certainly over-dependent on technology and that even life-saving technologies that run on the power grid can be affected, I worry about the elderly and those with health problems that rely on the grid to live – things like dialysis machines, CPAPs, and heart monitors are medical devices that are essential. I am sure people will have to go where the power is flowing or else they face health complications.
In today’s modern society, we’ve come to rely almost implicitly on having a dependable source of power. When power fails, it causes utter and complete chaos for those not fortunate enough to have had the foresight to prepare.
Of all the threats your disaster plan should consider, power failure is one of the more realistic and among the most likely to occur. When a power grid fails, a substantial geographic area can be without power for hours, days, or sometimes longer.
However, when the power failure is intentional you have to stop and wonder why this is happening, especially in an area that is a tinder box no matter what happens.
These areas in California are now vulnerable and any number of things can go terribly wrong. This is a nightmare scenario and one that can trigger outrage with higher temperatures and high stress.
At a minimum, with an admitted potential for two weeks with the lights out, you should have a one month supply of food for your family, as well as basic emergency supplies (including candles, flashlights, batteries, and other light sources.)
It is important that in any power failure that lasts for days it is important to have ways to prepare food off the grid, perhaps a Hibachi or a grill.
Keep your car tank at least half full because gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.
Be aware that most medication that requires refrigeration can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem. If unsure, check with your physician or pharmacist.
Keep a key to your house with you if you regularly use the garage as the primary means of entering your home, in case the garage door will not open.
Have money on hand in case stores are not processing credit cards.
Just a few tips that may or may not help now that most people will be in the dark – and then will come the looting and the crime so maybe it would be wise to have a gun or some other form of protection.
The deeper question here is whether or not PG&E shutting down power has gone too far. This is something they do in a third world country and we have seen what has happened in third world countries that have had to live through long-term blackouts.
This is also a liability issue. Nearly all of California’s biggest and most deadly wildfires have occurred in the last 20 years, with many of them being sparked by electrical problems or even grid failures.
It’s that liability that pushed PG&E into bankruptcy this year and has raised concerns that utilities may become more eager to shut off power to avoid potential catastrophe.
Scores of lawsuits have been filed on behalf of people whose loved ones were killed, whose pets disappeared into the blazing wilderness and who lost everything they owned. They accuse the utility of failing to properly maintain its equipment.
Even before this week, the power shutoffs generated debate, with some residents saying they create a whole new set of dangers for them as they try to watch for news about potential fires. There is also heightened concern for those with health issues who rely on electronic medical equipment for survival.
Critics worry that communications and evacuations will be hampered if the power is out, especially if traffic signals don’t work and cell phone service is affected.
As we watch California endure power cut-offs, there are some observers who are thinking that this is just the beginning and that public utilities in other areas can and will shut down power for alleged safety concerns or for some other unknown reason.
Think about it – this happening in one of the wealthiest jurisdictions in the world and it is naive to think that your area may not suffer the same power failures as California.
Until the entire country updates their power infrastructure we may see power blackouts happen with increased demand for power to heat homes in what is predicted to be one of the coldest winters on record.
This of course takes time and no one is going to have a quick fix during some of the most treacherous weather conditions. It is best that people take heed and prepare in case it happens to them.
The fact is these power blackouts are inconvenient and admittedly dangerous but they are being carried out which of course indicates that some of this feels like a well thought out psychological operation, just to test the resolve and nerve of the people.
PG&E should have been maintaining and updating its infrastructure before the crisis reached this point and equally we can say the same thing for the entire country.