When the power goes out, the first thoughts that come to my mind, without fail, are something along the lines of:
I can say confidently that I’m NOT thinking about my inconvenience perhaps actually helping prevent an even worse outcome than my food spoiling — a forest fire — but in some cases, that’s just what it is!
A “Public Safety Power Shutoff” (or “PSPS” as you may have heard it referred to) is a plan made by the utility to shut off large sections of the electric grid, usually to prevent fire.
Hot, dry and windy conditions may substantially increase the risk of a wildfire. If a power line were to fall or spark under these conditions it could potentially start a fire. Utility companies sometimes decide to shut off power to reduce the risk of wildfires caused by electrical equipment.
The L.A. Times reported that it’s likely that 10 or more fires were started in California by PG&E equipment in this way in 2019 alone.
A rotating power outage is something altogether different and happens when there is too much demand for electricity, leading to too much strain on the grid. This would typically happen on exceptionally hot days (hello, summer 2020!) or if there’s an issue with electricity supply, or sometimes both. Oy.
When this happens, the CAISO (the overseer of all utilities in California) may ask your electricity provider to turn off power to specific areas to “force” a reduction in demand.
But did you know that there’s a way for Californians to help our communities avoid this kind of outage altogether, and actually get rewarded for helping out the grid?
It’s a free, secure service called OhmConnect, that actually pays its customers to use less energy in times like these when there’s too much demand for electricity. It works like this:
Feel unprepared for a power outage of any kind? Check out these nine tips for being prepared and staying safe during a power outage, planned or otherwise.