3, 2, 1…. Blackout!


Jacqueline Toscano, Editor in Chief

The year of 2018 brought some of California’s deadliest and worst wildfires to ever be recorded in state history. With PG&E and the state’s drought being involved in the cause of these mass destruction, the energy company came up with an idea that would leave people in the dark, literally.

Extreme winds in dry areas often prompted these power lines to cause a spark and tear the area down in flames, which is what happened in 2017 and 2018. Weather conditions like this beginning to pop up, mainly throughout Northern California, is what worried PG&E and motivated them to do the Power Shutoff in the first place. Ultimately, the power outages began to take place on October 9, 2019.

Although Brentwood wasn’t directly affected by this event, it still affected 37, 486 customers in Contra Costa County alone. Statewide though, 34 counties in Central and Northern California, with around 800,000 total customers were affected by this for several days.

“October 12 was my grandma’s 90th birthday… the location of the party was planned to be in Santa Rosa at my uncle’s house, but a couple of days before the party, the power shutoffs started to occur and my family did not know if my [immediate] family would have to host it or postpone it. My uncle’s power was shut off, but then it turned back on the day before the party so we got lucky in it being restored right before,” expressed Matthew Chinn (12).

PG&E released files to local governments showing which areas were targeted to lose power, but the outage area seemed to overall be overstated by 20%. This angered many people since they weren’t directly prompted about losing power until the moment it occurred.

“My grandma was affected by the outages and it lasted for about 5 days. It was a problem because all the food in her fridge went bad and her phone eventually died,” said Alyssa Corie (11).

Many people have different opinions surrounding the power shutoffs taking place earlier this month. Some think that it was a smart idea since the company was slightly at fault for the mass fires, while others claim that it was unnecessary to basically punish everyone for what the company was at fault for with the shutoffs.

“The power outages should be more planned out in advance because a lot of people that it affected weren’t well prepared, like my cousins. They were in the middle of working and never got advised of this beforehand so all of the stores were then empty due to the number of people buying the necessities for this,” explained Sandra Pleitrz (11).

If the power shut off continued to go on any longer, they could have been to blame for the death of those that are hooked up to life support machines since they only have so much backup generator power they can use. With an earlier warning though, they would have more time to prepare for such an event.

As of Thursday, October 12, all of the power is said to be restored by now. Even with such a major part of California being affected by this already, another power shut off is reported to take place on Wednesday, October 30, affecting another 179,000 customers.

UPDATE: On October 27, 2019, another fire roared through an area that is close to home for many of the students at Heritage. Located between Knightsen Avenue and Delta Road, this fire reached a mere 25 acres before it was contained by firefighters.

Due to high winds reaching approximately 26 miles per hour, PG&E cut off the power for many near residents in order to help prevent any more deadly spread of wildfire.

“The whole neighborhood was dark and it was really cold not being able to turn on the heaters. Not being able to charge my phone or have any service made everything worse, it was definitely a horrible experience,” explained Janet Chavez (12).

With winter and higher winds approaching soon, who knows how many power shutoffs are to be expected in the near future.