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PG&E will shut off power for nearly 800,000 customers starting Wednesday
PG&E will shut off power for nearly 800,000 customers starting Wednesday
#1
Been hearing about this on Twitter but I haven’t seen a thread here about it.

https://www.berkeleyside.com/2019/10/07/...d-thursday

We need to start some infrastructure work.
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“When you choose an action, you choose the consequences of that action. When you desire a consequence you had damned well better take the action that would create it.”
― Lois McMaster Bujold, Memory
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RE: PG&E will shut off power for nearly 800,000 customers starting Wednesday
#2
Can we just start with the point, and this can't be emphasized enough, that PG&E are a bunch of assholes? This is a company that is willing to lie to voters repeatedly. This is a company that has gone into bankruptcy before rather than pay out over its shoddy maintenance. This is a company that routinely falsified maintenance reports.

In university, we were served by PG&E up in Davis. Down here in SoCal, it's Southern California Edison. Edison is fine -- I don't love 'em, but I don't hate 'em. As the north wind event up north shifts towards Santa Anas down here, they're going to consider a few regional power outages. PG&E is a shit company that thinks they are entitled to a monopoly with no regulation and no lawsuit payouts. They're doing a large-scale outage just to get back at the state for not shielding them from the victims of Paradise.

Seriously, fuck those guys.
--∇×v⃑
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RE: PG&E will shut off power for nearly 800,000 customers starting Wednesday
#3
.... I know some people think socialism is a bad thing, but I think this is a perfect example of why we need SOME socialist structures in our government.

You wouldn't even need to go as far as "giving away free electricity". Just have it be a government owned and operated entity that operates on charging bills at-cost instead of trying to turn a profit.
Yasuri Nanami is my number one waifu, if only because she would horribly murder all the others if they didn't shut up and toe the line.
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RE: PG&E will shut off power for nearly 800,000 customers starting Wednesday
#4
You mean like in Ottawa? (The city gets a decent dividend from the power company every year, which helps offset property tax increases. Of course, it helps that Hydro Ottawa owns a hydroelectric plant on the Ottawa River.)

I've seen worse systems.
--
Rob Kelk

"Governments have no right to question the loyalty of those who oppose them. Adversaries remain citizens of the same state, common subjects of the same sovereign, servants of the same law."
- Michael Ignatieff, addressing Stanford University in 2012


"Don't let anyone think for you; most people can barely think for themselves."
-
Rare Earth, ending credits
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RE: PG&E will shut off power for nearly 800,000 customers starting Wednesday
#5
(10-10-2019, 05:58 PM)robkelk Wrote: I've seen worse systems.
"And I'm looking at one right now" -John Cleese
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‎noli esse culus
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RE: PG&E will shut off power for nearly 800,000 customers starting Wednesday
#6
(10-10-2019, 05:58 PM)robkelk Wrote: You mean like in Ottawa? (The city gets a decent dividend from the power company every year, which helps offset property tax increases. Of course, it helps that Hydro Ottawa owns a hydroelectric plant on the Ottawa River.)

I've seen worse systems.

Same with the ESB here. Although the actual generation, purchasing and selling of electricity is open to private competition. The grid is still owned, managed and operated on a local by the state company -the ESB - which began with the Shannon hydro scheme a century ago. On a national level, another state company manages the high voltage grid - Eirgrid

Compared to the Omnifuck that is the HSE - the ESB is remarkably effective at what it does.

Effectively, the State owns the marketplace and sets the rules, while ensuring power can be transfered. The State also buys and sells on the marketplace itself - the ESB owns a lot of generation. There was a time when it was a State monopoly. It even once had a network of almost Soviet-style shops to sell appliances which could be paid off interest-free on your electricity bill.

It still regularly makes a profit for the State.

I love the smell of rotaries in the morning. You know one time, I got to work early, before the rush hour. I walked through the empty carpark, I didn't see one bloody Prius or Golf. And that smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole carpark, smelled like.... ....speed.

One day they're going to ban them.
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RE: PG&E will shut off power for nearly 800,000 customers starting Wednesday
#7
So in California, three different private enterprises own the lines.  Pacific Gas & Electric in the north, Southern California Edison in the south, and San Diego Gas & Electric near its namesake metro area.  There are two major, but still smaller state owned ones -- L.A. Department of Water and Power and Sacramento Municipal Utility District. Note that SMUD was only created in 1946, despite a public vote, after a 23 year court battle with PG&E.

In terms of selling power, those are the major players, but local "Community Choice Energy" coops have been formed fairly rapidly.  After the industry pushed so hard for deregulation of energy providers, this meant that the government has become much more involved as an energy broker rather than in maintaining infrastructure.  These would be significantly cheaper, if not for the taxes we have to pay to the former utility for not being customers any more, so they are merely cheaper and greener.  The corporate utilities went long on fossil fuels, and that's not going to be a good payout, so everyone has to pay more.

There have been various talks about the state purchasing the lines and poles, though.  Not really leading anywhere yet.  SDG&E has indicated that if the other two sell out, it doesn't want to be the only private player left.  PG&E wants to keep all its lines, but it is in bankruptcy.  There's the Norwegian model of public-private ownership, but under our state constitution, California is not allowed to own shares in a company.  It must be all or nothing, otherwise we are evil socialists.

The natural gas situation is also interesting.  In the north, PG&E managed to explode a hundred homes with a gas line about a decade ago.  In the south, So Cal Gas had the Aliso Canyon leak which ended up being the ungodly number of 1.5% of SoCal's total greenhouse gas emissions for the century, or 0.002% global CH₄ concentration.  Oopsi-daisy.  If these people were in charge of the Dutch water works we'd all be under water by now like Kevin Costner.  Yes, all of us.

Oh, and somebody shot at a parked PG&E truck today.  In summary, the utilities are not utile, laws prevent socialist infrastructure programs, and people choose government-run energy traders because they have more competitive rates.
--∇×v⃑
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RE: PG&E will shut off power for nearly 800,000 customers starting Wednesday
#8
Personally, I'd go for a company that is owned and operated operated at the Federal level, and maintains power grids and generation nationwide so no one State can screw over their customers with dodgy laws. Private enterprise can still provide the resources (equipment, materials, fuels, etc.) but the line is drawn at having anyone but the Federal Government in charge of actual operations.

There would be one simple mandate that the company would operate by: NO ONE GOES WITHOUT POWER.

I wonder - would at-cost billing be cheaper than the bulk rate modern industry uses for purchasing energy?
Yasuri Nanami is my number one waifu, if only because she would horribly murder all the others if they didn't shut up and toe the line.
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RE: PG&E will shut off power for nearly 800,000 customers starting Wednesday
#9
Given that you would be able to bill even the bulk consumers with the at cost rates? Yes. It would be much cheaper for low volume consumers in comparison though, especially in small markets.

Although you are now left with the question 'do I bill total cost servicing that consumer, or do I bill total cost servicing the entire network divided by the total number of consumers, potentially according to consumption?'
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RE: PG&E will shut off power for nearly 800,000 customers starting Wednesday
#10
I would aim for the latter - primarily because the main reason industry does bulk pricing for electricity is because it'd be less expensive than providing it themselves, and doing it at-cost per user would pretty much invalidate that. However, I'd draw a line between cost-sharing for industrial/corporate customers, and the rank and file home customers. These are two VERY different beasts, and it wouldn't be fair for them to have to shell out extra just to subsidize the other guys.
Yasuri Nanami is my number one waifu, if only because she would horribly murder all the others if they didn't shut up and toe the line.
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RE: PG&E will shut off power for nearly 800,000 customers starting Wednesday
#11
A thought from left field... If I recall correctly, California gets a lot of sunlight. (Certainly California gets more sunlight than most similar-sized areas in Canada.) Solar power cells are at the point that they're effective enough to be practical, and power cells are good enough that electric cars are actually practical now.

Why are people doing business with a power grid, other than as insurance against emergencies?
--
Rob Kelk

"Governments have no right to question the loyalty of those who oppose them. Adversaries remain citizens of the same state, common subjects of the same sovereign, servants of the same law."
- Michael Ignatieff, addressing Stanford University in 2012


"Don't let anyone think for you; most people can barely think for themselves."
-
Rare Earth, ending credits
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RE: PG&E will shut off power for nearly 800,000 customers starting Wednesday
#12
(10-12-2019, 10:37 AM)robkelk Wrote: Why are people doing business with a power grid, other than as insurance against emergencies?
Traditionally because batteries are actually pretty terrible at storing power and night still happens. Also, apartment buildings have densities that make getting power for everyone in them from the roof of the building tricky.
-Now available with copious trivia!
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RE: PG&E will shut off power for nearly 800,000 customers starting Wednesday
#13
Personally, I'd shade as many parking lots, roadways, and freeways with solar panels as possible. Better the sunlight hit solar cells than blacktop. And drivers will appreciate not having the sun in their eyes so much.
Yasuri Nanami is my number one waifu, if only because she would horribly murder all the others if they didn't shut up and toe the line.
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RE: PG&E will shut off power for nearly 800,000 customers starting Wednesday
#14
(10-12-2019, 12:39 PM)nocarename Wrote:
(10-12-2019, 10:37 AM)robkelk Wrote: Why are people doing business with a power grid, other than as insurance against emergencies?
Traditionally because batteries are actually pretty terrible at storing power
Traditionally, yes. But they've been getting better for years. (Compare the battery life of a modern cellphone with the battery life of a flip-phone, or the range of a Tesla with the range of Neil Young's electric car, for examples.)
(10-12-2019, 12:39 PM)nocarename Wrote: and night still happens.
That's what the batteries are for.
(10-12-2019, 12:39 PM)nocarename Wrote: Also, apartment buildings have densities that make getting power for everyone in them from the roof of the building tricky.
Yeah, that's still a big issue.
--
Rob Kelk

"Governments have no right to question the loyalty of those who oppose them. Adversaries remain citizens of the same state, common subjects of the same sovereign, servants of the same law."
- Michael Ignatieff, addressing Stanford University in 2012


"Don't let anyone think for you; most people can barely think for themselves."
-
Rare Earth, ending credits
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RE: PG&E will shut off power for nearly 800,000 customers starting Wednesday
#15
And if you think apartments are going to have trouble, they wouldn't hold a proverbial candle to what an office building would use, let alone some manufacturing plants. This is why renewable resource power generation is still in its infancy and we still use coal and gas
Wolf wins every fight but the one where he dies, fangs locked around the throat of his opponent. 
Currently writing BROBd

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RE: PG&E will shut off power for nearly 800,000 customers starting Wednesday
#16
There's not too much to argue here, renewable plus storage is already in the same price range to deploy at utility scale as are fossil fuel plants. But it's not quite at the "obviously better" price range that would be required to get fast, widespread adoption.

There are issues in getting a city to fully support itself by a microgrid. There are the obvious stability problems of small systems, and the fact that solar/wind is peaky. But then there's just the physics of it. In Los Angeles, starting with the solar constant and multiplying by the theoretical max efficiency of solar cells, we get 1361 W/m³ * cos(33° north * τ/360° ) * 0.3 ≈ 340 W/m³ -- and that's before you add in things like the atmosphere or it not always being high noon. Just like how cities import food, they also need to import energy.

We could have offshore wind farms -- that's easy, right? No risk of major fire out there. Except the US Navy has declared the entire continental shelf off Southern California a no-go zone for wind energy.

Some things will help. As we move to electric cars, any car that is currently charging can also discharge back into the grid. Solar parking lots are a really good idea, especially given that it saves on heating and cooling. Solar freeways... those would drop in efficiency because they'd get dusty really fast. Seven months with no rain is not unusual here. I'd have to see numbers before saying if that was a good idea.
--∇×v⃑
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RE: PG&E will shut off power for nearly 800,000 customers starting Wednesday
#17
Point of order.

As I read it, Rob wanted to know why power wasn't all being generated locally without the need for the utility to shuffle the electrons around long distances. Which is what my answer was based on.

Windfarms, solar power arrays roofing over everything shaped by human hands, and other such utility scaled renewable shenanigans are an entirely different kind of electrical generation as the source and the user are not on top of each other, and so keep many of the grid related potential problems from the top of the thread despite being better for air quality and climactic issues.
-Now available with copious trivia!
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RE: PG&E will shut off power for nearly 800,000 customers starting Wednesday
#18
Something that might help with apartment and city micro-grid solar is panels that are transparent in visible light while converting the energy of UV and infrared - they're still under 10% efficient in the best case I could find quickly vs. about 15% for conventional photovoltaics, but your typical high rise has a lot of glass frontage, even if other buildings may cause significant shadows in crowded city centres so not every installation would see optimum results.

http://energy.mit.edu/news/transparent-solar-cells/
https://www.solarpowerworldonline.com/20...ufacturer/
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‎noli esse culus
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RE: PG&E will shut off power for nearly 800,000 customers starting Wednesday
#19
(10-12-2019, 06:10 PM)nocarename Wrote: Point of order.

As I read it, Rob wanted to know why power wasn't all being generated locally without the need for the utility to shuffle the electrons around long distances. Which is what my answer was based on.

Windfarms, solar power arrays roofing over everything shaped by human hands, and other such utility scaled renewable shenanigans are an entirely different kind of electrical generation as the source and the user are not on top of each other, and so keep many of the grid related potential problems from the top of the thread despite being better for air quality and climactic issues.

because it is arguably more efficient to power large expanses with fewer plants than to have multiple plants overlapping coverage areas. Also, if you lose power from one direction due to a downed line, only one side of it is going to be hot, (ie charged) with multiple plants you have a higher likelyhood of both sides being hot.
Wolf wins every fight but the one where he dies, fangs locked around the throat of his opponent. 
Currently writing BROBd

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RE: PG&E will shut off power for nearly 800,000 customers starting Wednesday
#20
The thing to remember about all the major blackouts (accidental, that is) we've had is that they all pretty much stem from the same root cause that started the domino effect: high-voltage transmission lines going down - usually due to them drooping into trees during periods of high loads.

Having overlapping coverage is absolutely necessary to avoid the domino effects that major blackouts are caused by.

Here's one method of power storage that is tried, proven, consistent, and ready on-demand with only minutes notice: Pumped storage hydroelectric.

You do not need to use existing bodies of water - in fact, it's better that you don't - so the only real environmental impact is from the construction itself and whatever the project may displace. And it can double as a drinking water reservoir, granted that you can keep enough water in there for generation purposes.

Go one better: place a solar farm over the reservoirs at both ends. That will shade the water to reduce loss through evaporation and also supply your pumping power, effectively creating a solar power battery in the form of raw kinetic energy, stored and ready to rip at a moment's notice. You can even set up a sprinkler system to run now and then to clear the dust off the panels. It all just goes back into the reservoir.

This way there's no need to keep the other oil/gas/coal burner plants running during off-peak times to "recharge" your reservoir. And they'll get more of that much-needed down time for maintenance and repairs to keep them running in peak performance - which is also critical for reducing emissions.
Yasuri Nanami is my number one waifu, if only because she would horribly murder all the others if they didn't shut up and toe the line.
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RE: PG&E will shut off power for nearly 800,000 customers starting Wednesday
#21
(10-12-2019, 06:10 PM)nocarename Wrote: Point of order.

As I read it, Rob wanted to know why power wasn't all being generated locally without the need for the utility to shuffle the electrons around long distances. Which is what my answer was based on.

Windfarms, solar power arrays roofing over everything shaped by human hands, and other such utility scaled renewable shenanigans are an entirely different kind of electrical generation as the source and the user are not on top of each other, and so keep many of the grid related potential problems from the top of the thread despite being better for air quality and climactic issues.

True, that was my original question. But that isn't a reason not to examine other alternatives.

And "local" doesn't necessarily mean "generated at point of use", any more than "eat local" excludes the 100-mile diet.

(10-12-2019, 08:23 PM)Rajvik Wrote: because it is arguably more efficient to power large expanses with fewer plants than to have multiple plants overlapping coverage areas. Also, if you lose power from one direction due to a downed line, only one side of it is going to be hot, (ie charged) with multiple plants you have a higher likelyhood of both sides being hot.

On the flip side, a single issue in a large power grid can take out power to millions of people. (55 million people in 8 states and southern Ontario were affected by a software glitch in Ohio in 2003, for example.)

There has to be a happy medium somewhere between the two extremes.


(10-12-2019, 06:38 PM)classicdrogn Wrote: Something that might help with apartment and city micro-grid solar is panels that are transparent in visible light while converting the energy of UV and infrared - they're still under 10% efficient in the best case I could find quickly vs. about 15% for conventional photovoltaics, but your typical high rise has a lot of glass frontage, even if other buildings may cause significant shadows in crowded city centres so not every installation would see optimum results.

http://energy.mit.edu/news/transparent-solar-cells/
https://www.solarpowerworldonline.com/20...ufacturer/

Interesting... Are they cost-effective to deploy at that efficiency, though? (My knowledge is skewed - we have access to inexpensive hydroelectric power where I live.)
--
Rob Kelk

"Governments have no right to question the loyalty of those who oppose them. Adversaries remain citizens of the same state, common subjects of the same sovereign, servants of the same law."
- Michael Ignatieff, addressing Stanford University in 2012


"Don't let anyone think for you; most people can barely think for themselves."
-
Rare Earth, ending credits
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RE: PG&E will shut off power for nearly 800,000 customers starting Wednesday
#22
BA you have to remember that you are talking about a state that is almost constantly considered being in drought due to the lack of rainfall, especially in this time of year. Where are you going to get the water to fill those tanks?

Rob, honestly i don't disagree that more power sources/plants would be a good thing, but if you use renewables to appease the greens, then you are not providing enough power except for absolutely necessary infrastructure, and if you go with the cheap and plentiful solution you are contributing to the metro-smog issue. thus the people suffer

As for the solar cells in question, considering that the 15% capacity cells are not really cost efficient compared to normal production methods, i would have to say no.

and before anyone jumps on me about cost effectiveness, what is the life expectancy of those solar panels and what are you going to do with them once you have to replace them?
Wolf wins every fight but the one where he dies, fangs locked around the throat of his opponent. 
Currently writing BROBd

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RE: PG&E will shut off power for nearly 800,000 customers starting Wednesday
#23
(10-12-2019, 09:15 PM)Rajvik Wrote: BA you have to remember that you are talking about a state that is almost constantly considered being in drought due to the lack of rainfall, especially in this time of year. Where are you going to get the water to fill those tanks?
If you aren't drinking it, California is coastal. Take it out of the ocean. Salt water is just as heavy as fresh water, just remember to mention the salt water when you place the order for the turbines and pumps.

Quote:As for the solar cells in question, considering that the 15% capacity cells are not really cost efficient compared to normal production methods, i would have to say no.
Panasonic currently markets commercially available cells with a minimum efficiency rating of 19.4%. Is that a large enough change for you to feel better about the ability of solar power to keep the lights on? What would be high enough?

Quote:and before anyone jumps on me about cost effectiveness, what is the life expectancy of those solar panels and what are you going to do with them once you have to replace them?
Wind turbines are the ones that I've heard problems about recycling myself. Issues with the composites in the blades I believe.
Back to solar...
Manufacturers generally give a warranty of 20-25 years, so many life-cycle estimates use 30 years or so. This drops if you have a lot of hail, tornadoes or similar voicing an opinion about your infrastructure, of course. A quick googling gives a loss rate of less than 1% per year. Frequently more like 0.5%, so it doesn't drop to useless until it's second century or so assuming you keep the panels clean. No idea about the recycling options.
(10-12-2019, 08:55 PM)Black Aeronaut Wrote: The thing to remember about all the major blackouts (accidental, that is) we've had is that they all pretty much stem from the same root cause that started the domino effect: high-voltage transmission lines going down - usually due to them drooping into trees during periods of high loads.
Yup. I've actually done some (very tiny) study on this and it's not just one short either, the systems are usually designed to deal with that. It's what was referred to in the material for the course as 'non-random' failures in the grid. That is, the overloaded lines sag a littler further on a hot day, touch a tree and then go 'trip, trip, trip' ever faster through the redundancies one after another in a given area until there's no redundancies left and then there aren't any lights on at all. If you have it happen in the wrong spot you get...
(10-12-2019, 08:56 PM)robkelk Wrote: On the flip side, a single issue in a large power grid can take out power to millions of people. (55 million people in 8 states and southern Ontario were affected by a software glitch in Ohio in 2003, for example.)
^This. The software glitch just made it worse.

The simplified list of things that made it non-random were, as I recall, high temperatures plus power companies not trimming the trees and wind plus power companies not trimming trees. It was something of a theme. A frustrating theme, but a theme.
-Now available with copious trivia!
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RE: PG&E will shut off power for nearly 800,000 customers starting Wednesday
#24
(10-12-2019, 09:15 PM)Rajvik Wrote: but if you use renewables to appease the greens,
Don't use renewables to appease somebody. Use renewables because they're renewable - do away with the cost of fuel.
--
Rob Kelk

"Governments have no right to question the loyalty of those who oppose them. Adversaries remain citizens of the same state, common subjects of the same sovereign, servants of the same law."
- Michael Ignatieff, addressing Stanford University in 2012


"Don't let anyone think for you; most people can barely think for themselves."
-
Rare Earth, ending credits
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RE: PG&E will shut off power for nearly 800,000 customers starting Wednesday
#25
I think we're getting away from the main point of this thread, which is that PG&E is chock full of utter assholes.

There was a software glitch in the recent shutdowns, too. They told people to check the website for notification on when power would be shut down, then the website crashed. For a long time. The state government was forced to call in their own IT workers to get the website back up. An hour after they left, it crashed again. So no one knew when, or for how long, the outage would occur.

The second point in Southern California, we had some fires start too. Edison shut off a few neighborhoods, no big deal, but were able to communicate clearly when, and for how long. PG&E, well, they shut down whole counties at a time. California only has 58 counties. Why so unsubtle? Well it turns out that they don't really have an electric grid, so much as a hub and spoke system. SDG&E has the same problem in the late nineties when they were responsible for a fire, and started building redundant systems and burying their lines.

Anyone in the industry should have seen this coming. It was obvious how to defend against wildfire conditions. But what did PG&E do? Nothing, because they're assholes. Why spend on infrastructure now, when we can retire with more money in our pockets and leave it to the next generation to fix. Instead, they banked on administrative capture and the government bailing them out, because they were too big to fail. And when that didn't happen, there was nothing left to be done but inflict pain on the customers until they get the bailout they so obviously deserve.

This led to enough pain for the state to activate its emergency center at level 2, the same level as after the Ridgecrest quake.

Microgrids for redundancy is a really good idea, as it's also more efficient. It would also be a good idea to connect across different U.S. grids at a few sites, something like Japan does at the frequency meridian, so that emergency power can be transferred. But this latest thing is a man-made disaster from beginning to end. And although we can blame climate change on all of us, the real monsters were PG&E all along, profiteering instead of investing in a stable utility for the future. Supply-side economics only works when businesses invest in infrastructure, not just extract all the value out of the people for their own yachts. Seriously, total assholes.
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