As thousands of people lost electricity in the South Bay on Monday, some are enduring hours of a scorching heat wave waiting for power to be restored.
PG&E said excessive heat and power use have caused the outages, which started over the weekend. But some people say the energy supplier has been ill-prepared for heat waves and outages in the South Bay.
After losing power on Sunday, Los Gatos resident Zag Kadah said it took PG&E 17 hours to restore energy to his home.
“If they have to do something like this, somebody has to pay the price,” Kadah said.
Kadah is 84 years old and lives with his wife.
He said the power outages worry him because an electric gate outside his home can’t operate manually and could lock him outside. If lights go out in the middle of the night, he would have to navigate through his home in pitch black.
“To get up in the middle of the night and you cannot turn the light on to go to the bathroom, you can imagine,” Kadah said. “And then not knowing when the power is going to be restored … it was cut off at 3 in the morning.”
Meanwhile, PG&E representatives and city leaders have disputed who should take the blame.
Mayor Sam Liccardo slammed PG&E for the power outages, saying he confirmed that the company’s faulty equipment caused extended blackouts in the San Jose.
“PG&E must be more forthright with the public about its failures to maintain and replace the aging infrastructure that has caused too many San Joséans to lack power throughout the last three days during the worst heat wave in memory,” Liccardo said in a statement Monday. “They must also be held accountable for their continued failure to live up to their responsibilities.”
In a statement, PG&E said unprecedented heat and lightning storms caused power outages in San Jose this past weekend and Monday.
At least thirteen repair crews responded to 200 separate outages in the San Jose area, affecting more than 8,000 customers on Monday, according to the news release.
Katie Allen, a PG&E spokesperson, said excessive power use during the the heat wave strains energy supplies and customers should conserve electricity.
“The state energy supply is not enough to meet demand for power during the statewide heat wave,” Allen said.
Meanwhile many South Bay residents remain on edge as PG&E has warned that the state’s electric grid operator may require PG&E to turn off power from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Wednesday.
Kadah said the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation and left them with few places to go if their house loses power again.
“That makes it 10-times worse,” he said. “We cannot say, ‘let’s go to a hotel.’ Which one is open? We go and eat out — most places are closed. We take out, we take out to go where?”
PG&E has recommended the following tips to prepare for power outages and will post updates on impending outages on its website.
- Plan ahead: Check the weather forecast to prepare for hot days.
- Keep an emergency contact list: Keep a list of emergency phone numbers.
- Have a buddy system: Check in on elderly or people with access and function needs.
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water, even when you are not thirsty.
- Stay cool: Take a cool shower or bath and wear lightweight, loose, light-colored clothing.
- Stay safe: Stay out of direct sunlight and avoid alcoholic or caffeinated beverages.
Contact Mauricio La Plante at [email protected] or follow @mslaplantenews on Twitter.