Photo:PG&E public Facebook page
Raffaella Bravo, staff writer
PG&E power shutoffs have been increasingly common over the years since the 2017 fires. Due to the negative impact that these power shutoffs bring, I believe PG&E should provide $250 to help each family without a generator to help buy one or help cover other costs. The power shutoffs bring many disadvantages to families and students alike; the extra $250 assists families with the problems they face related to frequent power outages. Generators can cost up to around $8,000 to install, which many families do not have.
PG&E was at first suspected by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) of being responsible for the 2017 Tubbs fire that impacted so many in our community. One hundred thousand people in Sonoma county had to evacuate, 4,658 houses were destroyed and 32 people were killed due to this fire. Even though PG&E was eventually cleared by Cal Fire of responsibility for the Tubbs fire, they were found responsible for many others across the state. After so many findings of fault, PG&E has been conducting Public Safety Power Shutoffs to be extra cautious about ensuring that they do not need to deal with accusations like this again and guarantee that homes and people stay safe.
While I understand and appreciate their efforts to make Sonoma County safer, the multiple power shutoffs have become a problem of their own. They negatively impact students since the majority of our work is online. It can also affect families by needing to restore their food every time there is a power shutoff. Owning a generator, however, can keep your fridge, lights, Wi-Fi, and stove working and they are vital for students since most of our school work needs to be done online. The $250 would help families save up for these generators. Primarily, since the generator also provides electricity for Wi-Fi to work, it dramatically helps students keep up with their work and schooling even when these shutoffs arise. Without a generator, you can lose power for your fridge, and consequently, you also lose your money because of the loss of food during a power shutoff. The $250 could also help replenish any groceries that would have been lost during the process of the power shutoffs.
PG&E should provide $250 to families during the power shutoffs over 12 hours. This timeframe is fair to the people impacted by these power shutoffs and the company itself. Anything less than 12 hours would not require assistance. For example, groceries would not expire during 12 hours, and students have enough time to finish homework and stay on track with their classes.
In short, PG&E is doing the right thing with having these power shutoffs when the weather is prone to fires. But, my issue is where they do not consider the impact of the power shutoffs on families and students and avoid their responsibilities to accommodate these negative impacts. Providing the extra $250 could be enough to help replenish groceries or help save to buy a generator; this small but adequate amount of money can go a long way and help make the impact of the power shutoffs less tragic, and it’s the least a company making $18.5 billion a year can do.