Letter: Power out in Moss Beach yet again

Letter to the editor

Posted by on Sat, March 11, 2006

Once again the power went out in Moss Beach last night. At least it did on my block on California Avenue on the west side.  It seems this happens every time there is significant wind or rain - maybe once or twice a month in the winter.

I can’t help but wonder why we lose power so often. I would like to know whether this is a local failure. Or is it that we are we on some part of the grid that is lower priority and a failure somewhere else results in our power being taken off the grid?  Does anyone know the cause of our frequent local power outages?

Many in Moss Beach may recall the two heavy storms and lengthy outages within one week in December of 2002, if my memory serves me correctly. One of those outages lasted for over 8 hours. As these outages also were not the first, I decided to do something. Moss Beach is a PG&E Zone 50, which means it has police, fire and hospital facilities, and is not subject to rolling blackouts. One would logically also presume that this means a higher priority for fixing outages…Not so.  I had spoken to the HMB Fire Chief who offered his own stories about lax PG&E repair in a fire emergency, and to the local lieutenant of the Sheriffs’ Substation. He felt that PG&E neglected Moss Beach despite the emergency services, because all of their facilities had backup generators, and as ususal there were too few people in Moss Beach for PG&E to worry about their complaints. After challenging the PR hack at PG&E about their BS upbeat propaganda on outages on KCBS, I wrote to the Chairperson of the State Assembly Committee that oversees PG&E, complaining about the Moss Beach outages.  She invited me to appear before her Committee hearing in January, at which I spoke along with others from other parts of the Bay Area. Senior PG&E VP’s and PR hacks were in attendance as well as the media….Bottom line, PG&E skated on Moss Beach, and nothing further came of it…Very frustrating. I now live in a remote part of British Columbia, and despite winter snow, hail, sleet, etc. There has been only one outage of 30 minutes due to a substation problem at a local dam….The Chronicle and others have documented poor PG&E repair service, but it seems that nothing will change.

And it went out again today.  I just reset all the clocks… Let’s enter a comment here every time the power goes out and see how long this blog gets.

I strongly urge Moss Beach residents to track this and for someone to write/call Sandra Morales (exact name? check the state assembly website) Democrat Assemblywoman who chairs the Assembly Committee that oversees PG&E…Remind her of her hearing in January 2003, and ask that she reopen hearings on the extraordinarily poor PG&E service…This will not be the first time that she or PG&E have heard this…I expect that she will be very receptive.

Due to the Byzantine wiring of El Granada, there are some small areas in El Granada which suffer many more outages and much longer outages than the rest of El Granada.  It can be pretty bad on those blocks (I happen to live on one), although apparently this winter it’s worse in some part of Moss Beach.

However, a few weeks ago I couldn’t even count how many power flickers there were one night.  Each one of them causes an “oh, no, the power’s out AGAIN” groan.

As I wrote on the Midcoast-L mailing list recently:  when are we going to realize the cost of overhead wires, and underground the utilities?  Overhead wires in the 21st century is just STUPID.  Overhead wires in a scenic coastal zone is just STUPID.  The up-front costs may be high but over the long term I’m sure at some point it’s cheaper.

Maybe PG&E could fund part of the undergrounding by selling their tree-butchering machines and laying off those crews.

Yesterday evening it rained, very, very hard in the City and down to Pacifica. It wasn’t raining quite so hard in Moss Beach. It stopped overnight, but around 4 am the power went out, again.

We woke up (late) this morning in Moss Beach to a blinking alarm clock.  It’s barely a surprise anymore.  We’re on the west side of Hwy 1 and it’s usually the roaring of the pump on the Highway that wakes us up.  We often gaze adoringly at the lighted hillside when we lose power.  Can I borrow your hairdryer?

Again, I urge those in Moss Beach who are incensed about local power outages, and have some history with this mutli-year chronic problem without any resolution, to re-read my comment here on the 2002 outages and State Assembly hearing in Sacramento, at which i spoke, with PG&E top state execs in attendance…Do something! Call Sylvia Morales (D-Fresno)office. She chaired the Sacramento hearing, and knows the landscape at PG&E. Call Debra, Rich Gordon’s aide at the Supervisors’ office. She lives over here and experiences the outages herself. Call the PUC in San Francisco, though now that Schwarznegger has gutted the Board, they may be less receptive. Call the Midcoast Community Council, though the fact that they eunech’s politically has drawbacks. Call Kathryn Slater-Carter, who has a wealth of contacts and can be very helpful..Get something going or nothing will change.  We now live in a much more rural area than Moss Beach, and also have the anecdotal input from rancing relatives as well… We see nothing here, and I mean nothing, like the outages we experienced in Moss Beach.

Comment 8
Tue, March 21, 2006 11:12am
Cid Young
All my comments

I live in Seal Cove and sell Real Estate here on the Coast. I own several oil lamps and battery powered lights. I always advise my home buyers to have some of these on hand for the imfamous Coastside winter storms which are normally accompanied by balckouts or power failures.
  In spite of these warnings, people often don’t have these items handy when the lights go out. It means pawing around in search of them in the dark. I think the real culprits are the tree branches that fall on wires when we get these huge gusts. Asplundah (sp?) Tree Service usually only comes out when the branches have already fallen and caused a power outage.

I am glad I installed natural gas cooking & Heating in the late ‘80’s. At least when the power is out, I can eat warm meals. I recently spent one evening watching a DVD on my laptop to pass the time until the power was restored…or my battery ran out.

Cid young
Moss Beach Resident