Last month the San Francisco Examiner published an article posing the question, what will San Francisco do if PG&E shuts the lights out to prevent causing a fire?
In a recent filing with the California Public Utilities Commission, PG&E explained that if the utility has to turn off, or “de-energize,” high-voltage transmission lines in the East Bay to prevent the start of a wildfire, power to the entire city of San Francisco could also be turned off. And it could be up to five days before power is restored.
Are we as a city — and each of us individually — prepared for that?
Imagine The City with no working traffic lights. Cellphone networks and internet phone lines could fail. People who depend on medical equipment, like oxygen machines, could be at risk. Food could spoil without refrigeration, both in restaurants and in homes. Schools would likely close for the duration of the outage. Hospitals, police stations, and the airport could continue to operate on backup generators, but with reductions in services offered.
What happens if San Francisco’s power is shut down to prevent wildfires?
And then there’s water and sewage. Gravity helps move water from Hetch Hetchy and other sources into the City’s largest reservoirs. But we need electricity to pump water from the reservoirs to homes and fire hydrants. And we need electricity to operate wastewater treatment plants.
The slug line of the article is worth repeating:
Imagine The City with no working traffic lights. Cellphone networks and internet phone lines could fail.
The author also mentions that preparing for PG&E to pull the plug for a few days would be good practice for when “the big one” hits.
Folks, this whole idea of purposely shutting off the power to one of the most populous cities in the country is just nuts. If it weren’t for the wacko environmentalists in this state, no one would even think this was a rational idea; especially in the case of a “preventative blackout”.
If the power went out for a mere 24 hours, San Francisco would start turning into a Mad Max world. After a week of no food, electricity, drinking water, and gasoline; is there any doubt that the place would need the National Guard? Do you really think a city whose citizens can’t afford toilet paper and hates the Second Amendment will voluntarily maintain social order in tough times? I think roving bands of Oakland Raider fans will be raising all sorts of chaos. Add a few fires into the mix when firefighting is a sketchy proposition and the place has real potential to go downhill fast.
PG&E might be the catalyst that ends the idea of San Francisco as a sanctuary city. Playing XBOX surrounded by armed guards at an ICE holding facility might look like paradise in comparison.
In this age of just in time delivery, any interruption to supplying stores with inventory will have huge consequences. A prolonged blackout or severe earthquake in SF or LA will see additional loss of life and property. I, for one, don’t want to be anywhere near the epicenter of either event.