Citing high wind speeds they described as “historic,” the utility claims that if they didn’t turn off the grid, wind-caused damage to their infrastructure could start more wildfires in the area.
Perhaps that’s true. Perhaps. This tale presumes that the folks who designed and maintain PG&E’s transmission system are unaware of or ignored the need to design it to withstand severe weather events, and that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) allowed the utility to do so.
Ignorance and incompetence happens, to be sure, but there’s much about this story that doesn’t smell right—and it’s disappointing that most journalists and elected officials are apparently accepting it without question.
Take, for example, this statement from a Fox News story about the Kincade Fires: “A PG&E meteorologist said it’s ‘likely that many trees will fall, branches will break,’ which could damage utility infrastructure and start a fire.”
Did you ever notice how utilities cut wide swaths of trees away when transmission lines pass through forests? There’s a reason for that: When trees fall and branches break the grid can still function.
So, if badly designed and poorly maintained infrastructure is not the reason PG&E cut power to millions of Californians, what might have prompted them to do so? Could it be that PG&E’s heavy reliance on renewable energy means they don’t have the power to send when an “historic” weather event occurs? – READ MORE