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Why Did My PG&E Power Go Out and What Can I Do?

For the first time in 20 years California is experiencing rolling blackouts. Reports indicate that over 3 million residents were recently affected. Conditions that caused these blackouts will continue, and the situation will get worse during fire season when we can expect Public Safety Power Shutoffs.

In the olden days, blackouts were an opportunity to sit around by the fire and read by candlelight. Not any more. We rely on electricity to keep our food cold, to keep our lights on, to charge our cars and to keep our family connected to both school and work.

PG&E is not being candid about the real cause of these recent blackouts. Ostensibly, the rolling blackouts were caused when hot weather caused air conditioning demand to spike at the same time that several 500 MW natural gas power plants went offline, either due to scheduled maintenance or failure. But when I checked into the cause of several extended Silicon Valley outages, it became apparent that these outages were due to local transformer failures — not the one to two hour rolling blackouts that were announced.

The solution is almost universally recognized: more battery storage capacity charged by solar. I say “almost” because PG&E and other utilities are still recommending flashlights, candles and gas generators. Their logic is entirely based on their profit motive to install more of their own generating and storage capacity. PG&E and other utilities don’t want homeowners to install solar-charged battery backup systems — which are safe, reliable and affordable.

Please tune in to this week’s Energy Show for the gory details about this latest rash of blackouts — as well as what you can do to keep your lights on, your food cold and your family connected.


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