PG&E Storm Workers

Katy Grimes: The recent dumping of snow and rain on Northern California left more than 20,000 people in Nevada, El Dorado, Placer, Yuba and Sierra Counties without power. The reports have been all over the news. And many people have had to resort to the PG&E Electrical System Outage Map… if they have a smart phone that works, that is.

I heard in one news report that PG&E had replaced an old power generator in Nevada County last year with a newer, more energy efficient model. When this most recent storm hit last weekend, the generator worked for a few hours and then pooped out.

Suspicious as I am of the code words “energy efficient” (which today usually means “green” tech, and often having to replace something that doesn’t necessarily need replacing), I called PG&E and asked about the loss of power to the region, as well as what I thought could have been a faulty new ‘green tech’ generator.

I was wrong. PG&E’s media representative Brian Swanson, reported to me that the generator was replaced in Nevada County last year because it was old and inefficient.  “PG&E has generators in many of the more remote regions in California just for the purpose of providing power when big winter storms hit. Often during a storm, PG&E’s power lines are broken by downed trees – that’s when the residents of the remote areas get their power from the generators,” said Swanson.

The new generator in Nevada County worked last weekend – ironically until a tree knocked down the power lines coming from the new generator.

Swanson said that when PG&E has to make repairs in an area experiencing a power outage, they have to first hire tree cutting crews to remove the downed trees before PG&E repair crews can even get to the broken power lines, or make repairs to fallen power polls.

Swanson said PG&E has gathered extra crews from San Francisco and Fresno, and the crews will be working through Thanksgiving, until at least Friday, to restore power to the remaining homes without power: 2,800 in Nevada County, 1,200 in el Dorado County, 500 in Placer County, 400 in Yuba County and 250 in Sierra County. And Swanson confirmed that the remaining power outages are in the remote regions of the counties.

PG&E recommends that before calling about a power outage, check to see if other neighbors are affected. Also check your own circuit breakers and/or fuse boxes to see if the problem is limited to your home electric system.

PG&E’s 24-Hour Emergency and Customer Service Line  is 1-800-743-5000. And check the outage map for all areas affected by storms.

Here’s hoping to speedy service and repairs for everyone involved.

NOV. 24, 2010

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