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Deadly and dangerous: the problem with planned outages

Story by Haley Hardy 

In addition to earthquakes, fires and floods, California has a new man made hazard to watch out for–intentional power outages.

Utility companies have started the practice of precautionary outages to prevent their equipment from starting wildfires. 

Why have they started this? In October 2018, power lines were blamed for the devastating wildfires in Northern California.

In a state that charges the most for electric consumption, California utilities have not used their plentiful resources to update wires with protective sheathing or put them underground.

Pacific Gas & Electric have already shut down the power in strategically chosen places in hopes of preventing fire and loss of life. 

However, the planned shutdown resulted in the death of a senior citizen reliant on his airway pressure machine 12 minutes after PG&E cut the power to his home. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, the utility company is trying to blame the death on his heart, but his daughter believes the outage was the contributing factor. 

Anyone with deductive reasoning skills would agree that the stress of not being able to breathe could cause a heart attack making the power outage a contributing factor to his death as his daughter claims.

Whether or not the power outage was responsible for his death, it is responsible for the loss of income to small businesses, families who get sent home from work, schools closing, accidents from stop lights not working, hospital surgeries and services delayed, loss of perishable foods at stores and homes from refrigerators and freezers not working. 

More inconveniences from the power outages include customers experiencing disabled credit cards, no atm, no internet, no cell phones, no water, no cooking, no showers, no flushing toilets, and gas pumps may not work.

They have not cleared the brush and debris around their aging and faulty infrastructures. 

Instead of doing their due diligence they will be passing their mistakes onto the consumer. 

In fact, according to The New York Times, Utility companies have paid tens of millions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions to pass a California law that would allow them to pass the costs on to consumers by charging higher rates.

 Consumer Watchdog found that California lawmakers were among the biggest beneficiaries of campaign contributions, money which could and should have been used to update Californians aging utility infrastructure.

Power companies claim these power outages are for our safety. It’s a pack of lies being fed to the consumer as being in the best interest of the them. 

It’s cheaper for electric companies to cut power than for them to update the equipment. 

Customers will still end up paying. When outages occur the lines are not quickly turned back on because the electric companies have to inspect each power line before resuming service.

California has always had wildfires, they are not a new phenomenon, and utilities were never turned off to accommodate them. 

The power outages accommodate only the shareholders of the utility companies from being sued for damage caused by their faulty, aged equipment. 

They use their gains to find a way to bribe officials to continue with their shabby services trying to maximize their profit without investing in making the equipment safer.

Wildfires are not going away, maybe privately owned mega utility companies should.

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