by Tyler Durden
Fri, 10/25/2019 – 19:00
Earlier this week we joked that with PG&E now scrambling to enforce intentional blackouts every time there are powerful winds for fears the bankrupt company’s aged infrastructure could cause a new fire, “every time the wind blows California will become Venezuela.”
Turns out it wasn’t a joke.
… PG&E warned it will shut off power again on Saturday to as many as 2.5 million people as violent winds batter the state, in what according to Bloomberg will be “California’s largest intentional blackout ever.”
According to a Friday statement, approximately 850,000 homes and businesses in Northern California, including much of the San Francisco Bay Area, may be impacted beginning Saturday evening. And with data models indicating the weather event could be the most powerful in California in decades, with widespread dry Northeast winds between 45-60 miles per hour (mph) and peak gusts of 60-70 mph in the higher elevations through Monday, large swaths of the region could be without power for days.
“The upcoming wind event has the potential to be one of the strongest in the last several years. It’s also likely to be longer than recent wind events, which have lasted about 12 hours or less,” said Scott Strenfel, Principal Meteorologist with PG&E.
The potentially record outage will impact parts of Oakland, Berkeley, San Jose and Marin County. As usual, the city of San Francisco will not be affected, in order to make it easier for pedestrians to avoid stepping into the human faces covering the city’s sidewalks. The full list of affected counties can be found at the following page.
The hot and windy weather event is expected to begin impacting the service area Saturday between 6 and 10 p.m. and lasting until midday Monday, although as of late Friday, PG&E said it has not yet made a definite decision whether it will cut power.
As Bloomberg notes, this would be the third time this month alone that bankrupt PG&E – terrified of potentially sparking another multi-billion dollar blaze – has resorted to massive outages to prevent its power lines from sparking fires in high winds. The company’s aged equipment sparked blazes in 2017 and 2018, saddling the company with an estimated $30 billion in liabilities and forcing it into bankruptcy at the start of 2019. However, leaving millions in the dark has led to debate over how far California must go to prevent fires during windstorms. And despite the shutoffs, fires continue to burn.
Despite recent intentional outages, earlier on Friday California governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency as wildfires are now raging at both ends of California. Near Los Angeles, blazes have prompted authorities to order 40,000 evacuations. And north of San Francisco, a blaze is raging amid the vineyards of Sonoma County.