A rather delicate situation is arising in the southern part of the state of California. According to various reports, the main state energy companies will be forced to cut off electricity to hundreds of thousands of people. This could ultimately affect up to almost a million Californians due to the risk of fire from strong wind gusts.
In fact, there are already many homes and businesses affected by the cuts. According to Yahoo, “Utilities have shut off power to more than 100,000 homes and businesses in Southern California”.
The concern is clear: high winds can cause power lines to bump or drop, causing sparks and then a severe fire from just a little contact with dry brush. The formula is extremely dangerous, because the speed and density of the wind can generate a rapid spread that would affect thousands and thousands of miles.
Marc Chenard, one of the forecasters of the National Weather Service, mentioned that “if fires start, they will spread dangerously”.
The power outages began Wednesday and, as noted above, could affect as many as a million people or even more. The gusts of wind, which can reach 70 miles per hour, sweep along hillsides and mountains that are quite dry due to the drought that has affected much of the state of California.
In 2020 fires have been a nightmare for California. The state has been “charred” as the flames have burned 4.2 million acres and taken the lives of 31 people so far this year.
State energy and utility companies, such as Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). and Southern California Edison, have repeatedly shut off electricity to prevent power lines from falling into dry brush.
114,000 California homes without power
In areas surrounding San Diego, San Diego Gas & Electric “cut off electricity to more than 72,000 homes and businesses at 6 a.m. local time,” according to Bloomberg. The approximate number of people affected is about 216,000. According to the company’s website, another 22,000 homes and businesses could lose power.
According to the company’s website, another 22,000 homes and businesses could lose power. The Bloomberg report says that a little further upstate, “Southern California Edison has cut power to more than 42,000 homes and businesses”. Another 252,000 could follow if high winds continue, which, were they occur, would become the region’s largest fire prevention blackout of 2020.
PG&E, a California-based utility, had to declare bankruptcy last year after winds caused the largest deadly fires in the state’s history.
While the main affected area will be Southern California, reports indicate that the outages could also affect a portion of the state’s Central Valley.
While the fires have been a major inconvenience for California, it is true that power grid problems have been ongoing for decades, and state businesses have not been able to solve them.
For example, during August —when some 410,000 homes and businesses lost power for days— California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom was criticized when he admitted that authorities could not foresee the drought, severe heat, and fires that affected large parts of the electrical system.
“We could not predict and plan for this energy shortage … and that is simply unacceptable,” the governor said.