500,000 CA customers losing power today

caflowerluver

Our power company PG&E is shutting off power today to prevent fires because there has been high winds forecasted. This is being done because of the Camp fire in which they were blamed because of downed wires.


Right now there is no wind in my area or any other areas, but they have shut the power off in Northern CA area. We are going lose power from noon today till noon Thursday or later by the time they check the wires and slowly turn it back on. That means we will have to throw out a lot of food.


We do not have a generator, never needed one till now. We have been here 42 years and this is the first time PG&E has done this. The last time we lost power for a long time was 1989 eàrthquake. Our 30 year anniversary is coming up Oct 17.


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blfenton

Is this the first time for this to be happening? What do people think - overkill or smart thinking?

I just hope that California has a low fire season this year. Our fire season was back down to normal, actually below normal, compared to the last few years.

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share_oh

Wow 24 hours is a long time! We just bought a generator - I told my dh we just need one big enough to power the freezer due to the expensive meat we have in there.

Hopefully the winds won't pick up and the shut off won't last quite as long.

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Zalco/bring back Sophie!

PG&E has failed to properly maintain its equipment and now our region is set to suffer the consequences yet again. Outrageous.

We happened to get a great generator with our new to us house, so we are fine, but seriously ridiculous situation.

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gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

I live in the land of power outages.........however most are unintended. The most recent was only a couple of weeks ago, affecting only my neighborhood (10 homes) and was due to downed tree limbs. That lasted 12 hours, which was a pretty quick resolution here, all things considered :-) The longest we have been out was 5 days a few years ago.

We do have a generator but lived without one for many years. You still have time to pack perishables like milk, meat, eggs, etc. in a cooler filled with ice. And freezers are pretty safe for a short duration - 24 hours for one that is half full....as much as 48 hours for one that is full (this according to American Red Cross food safety emergency data). Just do NOT open the doors!!

Personally, I'd rather replace some food than have wildfires take out entire communities.............

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nicole___

Pack a cooler with ice, that's what we did when we moved in and the seller took the freezer.....and the frig/freezer combo was on order. Now....we "do" have a generator.

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matti5

I'm in phase 2 of the shut off, my power will be cut at noon. We bought a generator in 2000 for Y2K lol, never a need for it through the years. It's ready to go just in case. We are being told power could be out for up to 5 days, but I think that would be more likely up north, not my area. The media has been causing panic/hysteria (no surprise) and PG&E website is still non responsive, which doesn't help. I froze several gallon jugs of water. I have a lot of solar landscape lights, so those can come indoors at night.

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DawnInCal

Much of the north state is under red flag fire warnings due to expected heavy winds today. While our rainy season should begin in the next two weeks or so, some of our worst fires have occurred in Oct/Nov due to dry conditions and strong winds during the weeks leading up to the wet season.

Last year's Camp Fire started on November 8, destroyed the town of Paradise and killed 85 people. To cut off power may seem like an extreme measure, but if it means potentially avoiding another event like the Carr and Camp fires, I'm willing to put up with some inconvenience. Yes, PG&E needs to do a better job maintaining their lines and equipment, but until that happens this is better than doing nothing.

For those worried about food spoilage, maybe you can plan today's meals around what's in the fridge and pack the rest in ice chests. The food in the freezer should be fine as long as the door remains closed. I am sorry that this outage is going to cause problems for some, but I'm willing to do pretty much anything if it helps to avoid another year like last year. I feel like I've been holding my breath for the past few weeks waiting for the rain to start.

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caflowerluver

They say they are going to shut down whether there is wind or not. It could be perfectly calm and they will still shut it down. They say it might be out for as much as 5 days before all areas are inspected and the power gets turned back on.

We called around looking for a generator and of course no one has one. We called areas that were over 100 miles away but every one was gone. We might pack up overnight bag and drive a couple hundred miles away and stay in a hotel. I have sleep apnea and need my CPAP machine to be able to sleep at night.

As far as food goes if the power is out more than 4 hours than it is questionable whether it is safe to eat. Can you freeze milk?

I read this guideline.

Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.

  • The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened.
  • A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
  • If you plan to eat refrigerated or frozen meat, poultry, fish, or eggs while they are still at safe temperatures, it is important that each item is thoroughly cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature to ensure that any food borne bacteria that may be present are destroyed. However, if at any point the food was above 40º F for 2 hours or more (or 1 hour if temperatures are above 90 º F) — discard it.
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Elmer J Fudd

It is right to criticize PG&E for its ineptness and poor stewardship of its monopoly for decades and decades. The tragic San Mateo gas explosion and consequent work since on gas lines is another example of the need to fix its poor decision making. It's in bankruptcy, not for the first time, to try to stem its liability payments for the recent fires. That punishes shareholders, who really weren't holding the reins when the poor decisions were made over and over. It's the execs who are culpable but they move on to other jobs.

Don't forget that Southern California has also had many power-line-caused fires. It's not just PG&E who has this problem.

I'm not sure what the solution is. I understand the need to prioritize public safety but the measures taken today seem extreme. I'm in SoCal now and may experience a power outage here in the coming days. I expect to find a puddle of water under my freezer in my NorCal kitchen when we get back.

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quasifish

I'm not in a burn area, but we are listed for possible black out. We are probably powered by lines that cut through high burn areas. Not much information in Southern CA about what we can expect though, and not much information is being disseminated around here. If it happens, a lot of people are going to be surprised here :(

We are actually outside of the shut-off boundary on the map, but not by enough to feel comfortable. During the rolling blackouts some years back, we were never slated for black out because we are on the same circuit as some emergency services. I'm praying that is the case now too.

Thinking of all of you (us?) who are going to have to deal with this. I have a full fridge and freezer too, and no generator.

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lily316

I know this is a blame for the horrible fire last year, but I think this is going to an extreme. What if someone is dependent on oxygen. I am not but my pond full of 16 koi who are over 20 years old would die without power to keep their pond oxygenated. I hope the power is off for a very short period or not at all.

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LoneJack Zn 6a, KC

I'm hoping that the power outage will be shorter than expected for those affected.

This is a good reminder for me to run a test of my generator. I haven't used it since we lost power for less than a day last spring due to severe storm. I should also fill a gas can or 2.

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socks

I’d rather lose power than my home or life. People

are getting fair warning so they can take needed precautions.

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Elmer J Fudd

"I'd rather lose power than my home or life. "

Sure, but maybe those aren't the only two alternatives.

There's no way to know what's reasonable and what's not, but in the face of prior (justified) criticism of the power companies in saying "hey, you guys did nothing about this", now they're doing something, whether it's warranted under the circumstances or not. I think it's an overreaction for PR purposes.

I'd like to see a serious effort in the coming years to improve the safety of the major power lines and create zones that are brush and tree-free. Ratepayers will pay for it, but I think prevention is better than knee-jerk reactions. It would be a good use of groups like the California Conservation Corps and provide jobs for unemployed (not unlike the WPA did during the Depression).

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watchmelol

Oh the irony. In the San Francisco Bay Area there is a push for all new housing to be all electric. First they told us we couldn't burn wood in our fireplaces and encouraged conversion to gas logs. They continue to push solar which does zero to help in these situations. Pushing electric water heating over gas. Now they are going to randomly shut power to prevent forest fires.


Personally I know how to save my food in an outage. What would rankle me would be having no hot water for up to a week if I had gone with electric for that. On the to do list for this year is to convert fireplace to gas before they ban those too.


Gas stations had lines last night like I hadn't seen seen the gas crisis in the 70s. People are panicked on local internet sites. It's insane.


I feel bad for those who have special circumstances for health or other reason but personal responsibility for preparedness comes into play here also.

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Zalco/bring back Sophie!

I'm all for personal responsibility. I'm pretty miffed about total lack of corporate responsibility.

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natesg

If you have time fill up and freeze as many containers as you can fit in the freezer. Transfer to the fridge when need d. A full freezer will stay cold longer than partly full. Sorry so many have to go through this.

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Elmer J Fudd

"Oh the irony. In the San Francisco Bay Area there is a push for all new housing to be all electric. "

What's the irony? Do you see some relationship connecting the actions and motives of an electricity utility acting to prevent weather caused fires with the actions and motives of local governments concerning carbon emissions? These are completely different topics and with completely different objectives.

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Elmer J Fudd

"I'm all for personal responsibility. I'm pretty miffed about total lack of corporate responsibility."

Zalco, I agree with you if you comment has PG&E in mind and not as a broader indictment of businesses in general.

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raee_gw zone 5b-6a Ohio

If you can find a source for dry ice (our local groceries and ice cream shops sell it), a package in each refrigerator compartment will keep food safe for much longer than water ice. You should wear winter gloves, oven mitts, or wrap it in a towel when handling the package - the surface temperature of dry ice is 109 degrees (not a typo!) below zero.

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Zalco/bring back Sophie!

Elmer, definitely PG&E.

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Lukki Irish

I heard about this earlier on the news. Crazy.


We must be neighbors Gardengal LOL. Our power goes off quite a bit and was off a couple of weeks ago too! Unfortunately, our generator was temporarily out of commission as well! Grrrr....

Caflower, have you considered Amazon? Even if it takes a day to get to you, it might still be worth it.

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caflowerluver

We were thinking of ordering one through Harbor Freight but the shipping would cost a fortune.


PG&E keeps moving the shut down time; first it was noon, then 3PM, then 5PM. And now it is 8PM. It is driving us crazy!

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maifleur01

If you have a large pot and a grill you can make a soup or stew. If the electricity is out long enough for things in the freezer to start to thaw invite all the neighbors to have a community cookout as long as it is safe to have an grill burning.

Many of the foods that people think must be kept in the refrigerator do not need to be there.

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OutsidePlaying

We were without power for 5 days when the tornadoes wiped out power in all of North Alabama a few years ago. For those of you with generators, we only ran ours during the day to keep the refrigerator/freezer running. It was April and fortunately mild, so we turned it off when we went to bed, slept with windows open and used battery lanterns as needed. All the food was perfectly fine.

Our house is wired for the generator to plug in outside and we can run the refrigerator and a coffee pot and a few other small appliances.

I sincerely hope you all have power again soon. I really feel bad for those who rely on power for urgent medical devices. Emergency responders are going to be busy.

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lisa_fla

Do the hospitals and nursing homes have their own generators? What about police and fire? Do people living at home on oxygen go to special shelters? Are schools closed all over the state? Traffic lights not working? I can’t imagine widespread lengthy outages. How can people even work?

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Lukki Irish

I suspect that after this, solar panel companies are going to be busy.

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watchmelol

Lukki Irish Solar power attached to the grid system cannot be used as a backup generator. Even it could, that would endanger repairmen working on the system during an outage. Battery backup systems exist but are cost prohibitive. Besides, the battery backup systems pretty much cancel out the "green" of solar power. They don't last long, and there is the issue of disposal when they wear out. Those heavy batteries are toxic and costly to dispose of.


But you are correct. Solar power dealers will jump on this opportunity to convince unsuspecting customers that solar will solve all their problems.

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jemdandy

It doesn't matter if your house is heated by gas, oil, or electricity. All these furnaces will not run without electric power. All three have forced air circulating fans that are powered by electricity.

Your kitchen range may be partially workable without electricity. On my range, the cooking burners are spark ignited, but the gas feed is manual, therefore, these could be manually lighted (like was done years ago). The oven would not work because it is temperature is controlled by a thermostat, its gas valve is operated by an electric solenoid, and the burner has an electrically heated igniter.

PG&E got sued because they were blamed for starting one of the fires when the primary fire downed a live line, and that suit drove them into bankruptcy. This year, they are shutting off power to suspect lines to avoid a repeat of last year. Power will be restored when the danger is over. The customers are inconvenienced, but last year, it was the stockholders who took a loss.

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Lars

I also have sleep apnea and need to have electricity for my CPAP machine. My case is rather extreme - three times was is considered drastic, and so I never intend to spend another night without my CPAP machine.

You can get rechargeable batteries for your CPAP machine, but you have to be able to recharge them daily. I am unaware of solar powered rechargeable options.

I lost electricity for three days after the Northridge earthquake, and the least of my concerns was the loss of food in my refrigerator/freezer, but that was a traumatic natural disaster instead of a man-made catastrophe. Still we have to be prepared for any kind of emergency, whether natural or not. We have PG&E in Los Angeles, but we have SCE at our house in Cathedral City, but SCE has proposed cutting off power to Desert Hot Springs during the fire emergency. People in DHS have said, "WTH can burn in DHS - the Desert Hot Springs National Forest?" SCE has not proposed shutting off power to Coachella Valley, possibly because they would lose too much revenue if they did, and there is really little fire danger there, although there was a very small brush fire in Palm Springs a couple of days ago, and that was put out in less than a couple of hours.

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joyfulguy

About 40 years ago a widespread ice storm in I think it was early April, early spring, took down power lines over a wide mainly rural area 60 miles or so north of here.

A cergyperson in a small church nearby, I had power and, having time available, borrowed a portable generator to provide a short period of power for a number of freezers and fridges in a community about 20 miles away. Several wanted to power the furnace, as well, but most were connected directly to the main entry box and I worried about feeding power back out onto the line, probably putting power workers at risk. I recommend that householders have a break in the line to the furnace to enable connecting to another source, possibly by a push and twist plug.

The weather was mild and at one home where the freezer was in a cool back porch and had had some coats piled on the freezer, when we lifted the lid, there were ice crystals on a plate of blueberties, after a bit over 50 hours.

People were surprised that there was no fee - it was a gift from our churches. Some insisted on giving some cash, so I used some to buy my gas, gave some to the owner of the generator, who gave it to his church, and I gave the rest to mine. I did get some benefit: the receipt helped at income tax time.

I suggest a few families buy a portable generator together, with one having space to store it in between usages, for usually in an outage at least some of the owners would not need to go to work and could haul it house to house. If there were 4 owners, each house could have almost 6 hours of power per day; if 6 owners, upwards of 4 hours each.

Some farmers have a generator on a trailer, powered by a small tractor and have a switch on the power pole by their buildings that allows them to switch from the line to their generator.

One loss of half of a freezer's food would be a heavy enough loss to have paid for a quarter (third?) of the price of a generator, wouldn't it?

ole joyfuelled


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maifleur01

I do not know the distance involved in the suspect lines but in this area electricity can be rerouted around damaged areas and I am not talking about just a mile or two.

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Kathsgrdn

I hope people were given plenty of time so they didn't buy a bunch of food and were able to make plans.

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quasifish

Well, I'm feeling a little frustrated today. Didn't know our little community was listed as possible for shut down later here in SoCa until yesterday. SCE has maps of shut down areas, the boundary shown is literally 3 small lots away from our house- too close for comfort. From past experience with outages, we do know that power to our neighborhood comes in from the opposite direction, so fingers crossed...

On their website (which is largely inaccessible) SCE says that customers will be notified 48, 24, and 1 hour prior to this type of shut down, but the most recently information they have posted doesn't state that, and no one I've talked to, including within the boundary map, has heard anything from SCE about possible pending shut down. I'm concerned this is going to be a surprise to a lot of people if they are planning to shut this area down. No one seems to be able to tell me if SCE is actually notifying affected people, or just expecting them to decipher what's being shown on the news and internet, if they see it at all. :( I'm sure there are a lot of people like me, who wouldn't even think our community is affected by this, and wouldn't look into it.

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Lukki Irish

Watchelmol, I didn’t imply that one had anything to do with the other. Solar panels may not be able to get someone off the grid 100%, but it’s probably safe to say that with a solar system, one would be a lot less dependent on the utility company and therefore not subject to the inconveniences a power outage can cause. With the sun that CA has, I would sure be interested in exploring other options. Solar is a good long term solution to an unreasonable situation and a good choice environmentally too.

We lost power for a few days once. Within a couple of months, we bought a generator so we’d never be without power again. It only happens here when the weather is bad so it works for us, but if DTE were to do to us what this company is doing to CA, finding a way to avoid a dependency on them would become a priority. What they are doing and the way they have gone about it is just plain wrong.

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matti5

It was a very frustrating day and night with the lack of information from PG&E. We were scheduled to lose power at noon yesterday, which kept getting pushed backed. The understanding from PG&E was it being due to a change in the winds, although every weather person said nothing changed. Our police department kept us updated as best they could via twitter, but early evening they became quite upset at the lack of info from PG&E. The lights are on, but we're totally in the dark!

Thankfully we have not lost power yet, but did have some hefty winds during the night.

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caflowerluver

Good thing I charged my tablet yesterday. Don't know how long my tablet will last on back up battery.

We thought the power was going to stay on because it had not been shut off by 10PM. Our son woke us up at 11:30PM saying the power was out. They did it because they said it was because strong wnds were forecasted. There has been no winds here. Not even a slight breeze yesterday or today.

No CPAP machine so put a couple of pillows behind my back and tried to sleep in a semi sitting up position. Didn't really work very well, so got a rotten night's sleep. DH slept in the guest BR because I was snoring. Got down to 64 deg. In the house overnight. Can't turn on the heat so wraped up in my snuggly.

Don't know how long this power outage is going to last. Could be as long as 5 days. I did several searches, even on PG&E website, and can't find much information. So just have to take it day by day. Tried to use my MP3 player on radio setting to find a news report but no luck. Looking for our old battery radio and use that to stay informed. It is strange not to be able to be on top of things.

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lily316

It must be totally frustrating to all of you in the dark, literally but I meant not knowing. This would be disastrous for me and my two koi ponds which need constant water pumping for oxygenation. I imagine it's harming a lot of people. Another reason solar, wind ,is our future

.

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Elmer J Fudd

"I do not know the distance involved in the suspect lines but in this area electricity can be rerouted around damaged areas and I am not talking about just a mile or two."

The areas affected are spotty but cover several hundred miles plus from North to South.

In the Bay Area, there's the ocean to the west, a large bay in the middle, and several different stretches of coastal mountain ranges with peaks in the 2500-4000 feet range.

It's not the plains of the Midwest. Power line routes are complicated and the ones that represent fire risks go over the hills/mountains where the wind is highest.

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Elmer J Fudd

"Watchelmol, I didn’t imply that one had anything to do with the other. Solar panels may not be able to get someone off the grid 100%, but it’s probably safe to say that with a solar system, one would be a lot less dependent on the utility company and therefore not subject to the inconveniences a power outage can cause."

Sure you did. Now with this comment, you did so twice. Your comments are incorrect.

watchme's explanation is accurate. A home with solar panels that's tied to the normal electrical grid (as they almost all are) will lose power when its neighbors do. They're required to be set up that way for the reason she explained. Only a completely "off the grid" setup, as some kooks like to do but which is impractical because of nighttime darkness, would be unaffected by changes in the distribution system. I know many people with rooftop solar setups, some for environmental reasons and others for economic reasons because our power rates are high, and those in the power off zones have their power off on this bright, sunny day just like everyone else in their neighborhoods.

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joyfulguy

If one has solar power production unit(s) that are connected to the grid, is it possible to disconnect without problem(s)? To get a switching system to allow one to disconnect, in order to provide some power in your location (during the day)?

Would/might there be a problem with the metering system, knowing that there was a disconnect and that the power produced during the disconnected period was not being made available to the power company?

If it may be possible to disconnect, does one have problems about there being a disparity between the amount of power being produced and the amount being consumed - might one cause damage to the system?

ole joyful


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Elmer J Fudd

"If one has solar power production unit(s) that are connected to the grid, is it possible to disconnect without problem(s)? "

To the best of my knowledge, the answer is No, that's not possible. They insist on a 100% fail-safe, "untamperable with" hardware connection to protect workers so that when the grid power is off, the solar system power produced is blocked within that system itself. No side connections are possible.

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Elmer J Fudd

I feel for you, caflowerluver, as far as the CPAP machine goes. I use one too, it's perhaps the one health thing I'm 100% religious about - I never sleep without it.

I have a small battery, good for one night. With easy to find cord connections, you can even use a car or boat 12v battery and those can last for multiple nights.

Our power is out but we're on a trip right now so I haven't been inconvenienced. I hope it gets switched back on soon for you and others affected. It's such nonsense.

There was a good editorial comment about it in this morning's San Jose Mercury News.

"Northern California is not a Third World country. If the Bay Area were a nation, it would command the 19th-largest economy in the world. It’s unacceptable that the region is being forced to endure this level of disruption as the long-term strategy for dealing with the threat of wildfires.".

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Lukki Irish

No, I didn’t and it’s kind of arrogant for you to think that you know what my intent was more than I do.

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Elmer J Fudd

Readers only have the written words to understand anyone's sentiment. If I misunderstood what you said, please clarify what this comment you made implies:

"it’s probably safe to say that with a solar system, one would be a lot less dependent on the utility company and therefore not subject to the inconveniences a power outage can cause."

As I explained, most (95% or more) homes with solar cell installations are connected to the grid and they suffer the same power outages their neighbors do. The same outages at the same times and for the same durations.

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DawnInCal

Only a completely "off the grid" setup, as some kooks like to do but
which is impractical because of nighttime darkness, would be unaffected
by changes in the distribution system.

Why do you refer to people who live off the grid "kooks" ? Besides name calling, that
sounds really close minded to me especially coming from the guy who has
told KT forums members to "open their minds" in past threads.

I have a neighbor who has been off the grid for the 25 years that I have known him through a combination of solar and water power. He's far from a kook and lives very comfortably while generating all his own power. Unlike all the people who are upset about their power being turned off during this red flag fire warning, he won't be affected at all.

Be advised that I'm not going to get into it with you; I just was curious why you felt the need to call people who choose to live off the grid "kooks".

And, calling "crickets" on Lukki Irish is uncalled for. She may very well be busy with other things and hasn't yet seen your posts. Not everyone spends all day on the internet. I haven't been on since this morning because I've been busy with other things.


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DawnInCal

You've dodged my question regarding why the name calling - re: kooks, but no matter. I don't care enough to pursue it.

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Elmer J Fudd

No I didn't, not at all.

"Kook" as a noun refers to someone who has eccentric conduct or ideas. The meaning is the same, to say one is to say the other and vice versa.

Not that it matters but for the record, I never dodge a question posed to me that I have been asked orally or (as here) read. Never.

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caflowerluver

We got our power back around 4:30PM yesterday. We had moved all freezer foods to our chest freezer so they stayed frozen. Our refrigerator stayed cool and only moved the milk to the freezer when the refrigerator climbed over 40 deg. Usually the refrigeartor is 34 deg and freezer is zero. We will be checking our food over the next few days but everything seemed to be OK.

I feel bad for all the restaurants and grocery stores that had to throw out so much. The power shut down was a political move on PG&E's part. There was no wind in our area so no reason to have a power shut down. The governor called them on it and really let them have it. Why does everything have to be about politics?

Glad we're back to normal. DS, who is Autistic, can't take it when he doesn't have the computer or get to watch his TV shows. We are all creatures of habit. Also nice to have heat, house got down to 64 deg. Luckily we could have a fire in the fireplace to keep the LR warm yesterday.

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See how homeowners have channeled their creativity into homes that are bright, inviting and one of a kind
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Most Popular Houzz Tour: A Custom-Made Tiny House for Skiing and Hiking
Ethan Waldman quit his job, left his large house and spent $42,000 to build a 200-square-foot home that costs him $100 a month to live in
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Decorating Guides Room of the Day: Suburban Foyer Makes a Powerful First Impression
A custom wall mural and other dramatic features surprise and delight in this Chicago-area home
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GBC Kitchen & Bath has been in remodeling business for over 10 years providing products and services mainly in... Read More
Blue Isle Granite & Tile specializes in Custom Countertops for your Kitchen, Bathroom & Bar Top. We focus on the... Read More