Thursday, October 24, 2019

PG&E trying shut down the worlds 5th largest economy. Apparently.

For fucks sakes! People are absolutely losing their minds tonight as PG&E has started notifying ALL the Bay Area counties that they could lose power on Saturday into Monday afternoon. Even mine. (the burbs) We are all going to be so HANGRY.

I have seen reports all the way to Monterey. I wouldn't be surprised if the same thing started coming through to Southern California.

So yeah. It going to be fun to see how this works out.  Grab your popcorn now. It's so stupid it's funny.


  1. PG&E has no choice. Folks should be mad at the legislature, which won't change the law making it liable for all results of any fire related to its equipment. Until that changes, or the PUC lets it collect the money to change its equipment, plan on living through blackouts.

  2. Oh. I'm not mad. I'm sort of loving this shit show. People are being confronted with their choices. I do wonder how you would feel if you lost everything you owned due to their negligence. It's pretty uncommon for people absolve companies from negligence, but okay. I'm not saying their isn't gobs of blame to go around. This is what citizens and politicians chose to let happen. Just because they turn off the power doesn't mean they won't get the shit sued out of them. Power or now power. There are a lot of people on breathing machines and oxygen. You can't bring an economy to a stop without consequences. I hope. But let's see.

    I'm just liking that it leaves a fresh mark because it proves that the grid is so unstable that it's insanity to have everything electrified. Which is their goal.

    It's also super funny that last night you couldn't get info from their website without going through captcha hell. which means they were probably trying to throttle their traffic.

  3. My point is that PG&E's negligence - or lack thereof - is irrelevant. They're legally responsible even if they've done absolutely nothing wrong. Until that changes through legislative action, or the PUC lets them charge enough to upgrade equipment, blackouts in windy conditions will be the new normal.

    Yes, people are being confronted with their choices, and the choices of our ancestors. Cheap electricity in this case means an unstable grid. Decentralizing the grid might be an answer, but that won't be cheap, fast or easy.


  4. Yeah. We disagree on how we got here. This is corruption at its finest. It is not because of cheap energy- to the contrary it's because PG&E is saddled paying well above market rate for solar power. Allegedly. They are locked into contracts made at the early days of solar when it was it's most expensive. $197 per megawatt-hour. Which now costs $25-$30 per megawatt-hour.

    It isn't really one reason but a bunch of different reasons why we are here. The environmentalists for blocking tree trimming. The government for pushing an agenda that isn't realistic. I mean - a handful of cities in the Bay Area have outright banned natural gas from going into new construction. This doesn't make electricity cheaper - it makes it more expensive. San Jose, Berkeley San Mateo. Those are just the ones I can run off the top of my head. The government makes insane rules and then wonders why PGE can't maintain their property. If PGE is to blame or not to blame is up tot he courts decide. But I believe if a whole neighborhood explodes to due a gas line break - they are clearly negligent. It's not like you can't see a hole in the ground with a pipe that is ruptured.

    Cheap energy built this country. Where we go from now - I don't think there is enough money in this whole State to pay for upgrading their infrastructure. It has to be on the level of building freeways. And we can't even do that. But making it so people can't make money which contributes to the tax base is not going to make that equation any better.

  5. Well. I am mad. Looks like sometime saturday they are shutting us off.
    And monday will be off too.
    This HURTS us small businesses. Without power I can't work on computers.
    That's my bread and butter.

  6. I try to assume incompetence before corruption, but you've raised some valid points.

    You said, "I don't think there is enough money in this whole State to pay for upgrading their infrastructure." I agree, and there's the rub. Nobody has been or is now willing to pay to upgrade the infrastructure.

    PG&E can't afford to be the fire insurance provider for every home and business in areas that are at risk. Yet, the law says it has to be. Its only rational response, for now, is to continue the blackouts.

    Folks with money can invest in solar power and batteries, generators and what have you. Folks without are going to continue to be hosed. It sucks, but that's the way it is.

  7. "I try to assume incompetence before corruption,"

    (smile) That is usually where I lean too. Incompetence often explains everything. But in California we get both.

    But nothing really changes until people are affected and in California they are awesome at making rules they don't have to live by. I have been amused that a lot of the blackout areas are very wealthy. Portola Valley. That is George Lucas level rich. Those are usually the people that say we don't mind more taxes and all that other phony shit. So lets see. Put your money where your mouth is. We are just really lucky is isn't super hot right now. If this were in the middle of summer...... giggle. That would take this to a hole nuther level.

    Is anyone really sure how stable these battery backups are? I'm not sure yet if I want one of those attached to my house considering how hard it is to put out a runaway battery problem on a Tesla. It just doesn't seem logical for every house to have a battery backup system. How is that better for the environment? Asking rhetorically of course.

  8. I just assume the fix is already in, because it usually is. :-)

    With all eyes watching, there's no better time for there to be a seriously nasty outage that leaves the electrical grid in a randomly unreliable state for months if not years ...

    It's obvious that the People's Republic of California wants to try to "state-ize" (as opposed to "national-ize") PG&E, and that will probably happen, but it's not going to work out how Californians might expect.

    There's probably a lot more money to be made in electrical power generation than there is in distribution and retail sales, and that's the way out for PG&E.

    Why not let the electrical distribution grid self-barbecue to a moderate degree until the California taxpayer offers to take that part of PG&E's business off its hands for a one-time payment?

    So if I were running PG&E, I'd stick every spare dollar into electrical power generation investments, preferably stuck within subsidiary companies and business partners that don't have the PG&E name (so there's no repeat of the Dow Chemical story), and seriously give no fucks about maintaining the grid.

    Because if maintaining the grid earns the company punishment, why should anyone believe there would ever be a reward? As PG&E's would-be CEO, I would be OK with letting parts of the grid burn until California offers to take it off the company's hands since there's probably no other option that sounds like winning even partially.

    Outages? Yeah, bring the fuckin' outages! PG&E's probably got a really great in-house security force to deal with shit that comes down anyway.

    And that is why you should buy a really good multi-fuel generator and fuel storage setup (and splurge for one, BTW, so you get reserves, quality, and high output): eventually you're looking at a local power generation scenario anyway.

    When the California power grid is protected from legal assaults by means of some kind of sovereign immunity, you're actually going to have even worse outages because the future CalGrid people won't have to give any fucks.

    Meanwhile, Eric's moving to a part of the country that was the recipient of the best and most successful US government assistance program ever: the Tennessee Valley Authority ...


  9. Yup, moving to TVA-land, where the lights mostly stay on, the roads are maintained, there's good cell coverage (in notable contrast to Palo Alto), natural-gas service is expanding into the countryside, and, while it may be a 15-minute drive to the grocery store, at least it's 15 minutes of scenic country roads and not 15 minutes of traffic.
    Dogpatch (at least, for certain values of Dogpatch) is a much more inviting place now than it was in the 1930s!
    ... I was a little concerned that my Coleman stove is already moved, but it looks like the Palo Alto flatlands aren't on this weekend's blackout list. Besides, we still have the propane grill. Just have to make sure there's something grillable for dinner.

  10. "Why not let the electrical distribution grid self-barbecue to a moderate degree until the California taxpayer offers to take that part of PG&E's business off its hands for a one-time payment?"

    San Fransisco is already trying that. They tried to buy part of the PG&E infrastructure and PG&E said no. So, Governor Hair Gell will just seize it I'm sure. That is their plan. Force insane rules on a company until they are half dead and then just take it from them.

    "Meanwhile, Eric's moving to a part of the country that was the recipient of the best and most successful US government assistance program ever: the Tennessee Valley Authority ."

    Do you two know each other? And how do you know that he reads my blog enough that you'd point him out specifically? Just curious.

  11. I've actually commented on Eric's blog, albeit briefly ...

    I believe it was in reference to PANIC NOW AND FLY TO SHENZHEN FOR YOUR MLCCs or something like that. :-)


    Also, I got the feeling that we are in vastly different fields despite a common thread of working on electronics gadgets and related sorts of things.

    For instance, I gather that he hasn't had to endure Scenic Bakersfield just to deal with a customer, nor has he had to deal with Lancaster/Palmdale and the necessity of purchasing a wheel clamp lock in order to attempt to preserve your continued ownership of your vehicle.

    Similarly, he probably has no clue where the best burger spot is in Bismarck, North Dakota, let alone somewhere like al-Khobar ...

    So there's that. :-)

  12. It's many a year since I visited the best burger spot in Bismarck; I remember eating there, but don't recall the name. Would have been... um... sometime in the early 90s, I guess, in ND for a family gathering in Fargo. There'd been a flood earlier that year, so there were a lot of mosquitoes, and we happened to be in Fargo at the same time as the PGI convention.
    I've generally avoided being sent afield on business, though I did once spend several days in La Marque, TX; not having a passport, I haven't been sent to a telco basement in Japan, nor have I toured the Med with the Egyptian Navy. (Yes, I've been threatened with both of those.)
    Some of the stuff I'm working on now is meant to end up in far-flung hostile environments (mostly not shooting-type hostile), but, as a behind-the-scenes contractor, maybe I can avoid becoming the public face of tech support.

  13. I'm just happy to Californians suffering and hopefully the ones who really deserve it like the shitlib enclaves along the coast. I actually have some sympathy for the rural forest and farming communities of the eastern state that produce something of value.

  14. Wow. I'm not saying that we don't deserve a lot of shit - but you could really have waited a day to step on that nerve. It was a pretty intense day. And I am not ANYWHERE near the fires. Just give it a minute please. Then we can resume shitting on California.