Rotating Power Outages

All of the Buena Vista neighborhood is on Powerblock 9a, in the event there are calls for mandatory rolling blackouts, check the PG&E website to see if and when Powerblock 9A will go offline at: 

pge.com/rotatingoutages

Rotating Power Outages

Rotating outages (Stage 3 Emergencies) become necessary when the demand for electricity becomes too high, here in California this is typically the result of a heat-wave.  These rolling blackouts or rotating outages help reduce the load on the power grid and prevent large-scale cascading blackouts that are far more disruptive to everyone by alleviating grid capacity and power generation issues by forcefully decreasing demand by rotating sets of customers through a temporary outage during different times until the rotating outages are no longer needed (demand no longer outpaces supply).

Due to the rotational nature of these outages, an effort is made to ensure that customers are not impacted by back-to-back events over the course of multi-day extreme weather events.

These rotating outages are called for by the CAISO (California Independent System Operator) are not Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events. PSPS events are the result of extreme weather, that makes it necessary to temporarily turn off power to reduce the risk of wildfire. Customers receive advance notice in the event of a PSPS.  While unlikely (because a PSPS will drop the load when implemented), it is possible for rotating outages and PSPS's to occur simultaneously.

Utility Pole
Cloudy Day

But I Have San Jose Clean Energy, Not PG&E

Yes and no, in February 2019, San José Clean Energy (SJCE) became a new electricity generation provider, bringing San José residents and businesses cleaner energy at lower rates than PG&E.  As an SJCE customer, you still receive one bill for your power service, sent by PG&E.

SJCE replaces PG&E’s electric generation services with a local, publicly controlled electric generation service. They buy clean, carbon-free electricity for you, the customer, which PG&E then distributes to San José homes and businesses. PG&E continues to provide customer and billing services, maintains power lines and fixes outages. It also provides all natural gas services.

Since PG&E remains the electricity transmission and distribution provider, they are still responsible for maintaining powerlines and responding to power outages. PG&E is also responsible for notifying customers of planned power outages.

What Are Flex Alerts?

A Flex Alert is when residents are asked to voluntarily conserve electricity today as the temps keep climbing and putting a strain on the power grid.  If customers conserve energy, outages may not be needed or may be pushed back. 

Consumers are urged to particularly conserve in the late afternoon because that is when air conditioners are typically at peak use causing a major drain on the power grid, according to energy officials.

The ISO provides these conservation tips:

  • Set thermostat at 78° or higher and turn off, if away

  • Cool with fans and draw drapes

  • Turn off unnecessary lights and appliances

  • Use major appliances in morning or late evening

What Does This Mean to Me?

First, it's important to know how and when you will be impacted; all of the Buena Vista Neighborhood is on PG&E Power Block 9A so when it is forcefully powered down, we will all be dark (check out the map).  The map borders are not extremely linear and if you're near the power block border, you'll want to double check which power block you are part of.

When rolling blackouts are called for, you can visit the PG&E website in advance to see if, and when, we may be loosing power and approximately when. 

The good news is that if you are prepared for emergencies in general, you should be ready for rolling blackouts!

When you hear that rolling blackouts/PSPS's or other service disruptions may be occurring, take the time to get ready:

  • Check your flashlights (where are they, do they have batteries that work).  Don't use candles or other combustible light sources.

  • Recharge not just your phone, but also your spare phone battery, the outage may last longer than you think.

  • Check on your neighbors, especially if they are older, live alone, or have medical needs.  Make sure they know what's going on and they are ready in the event the power is disconnected.

  • Make plans for your meals; can you cook if you don't have electricity? Will the restaurant you're planning on going to have power or have they been shut off as well?

  • Can you get into your garage if the power is out?

  • If you live in a building with elevators, use the stairs, while they have safety features intended to keep you from being trapped, stuck in an elevator for a few hours on a hot day is not someplace anyone wants to be.

  • Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to prevent food spoilage, especially on hot days.

  • Make sure you have more than half-of-a-tank of gas.  When the power goes out, the gas pumps stop pumping and it might be difficult to find a working gas station if you're running on fumes!​

  • Sign up for PG&E power alerts so you can get early notification of service interruptions to help you better plan around them:

What Someone in My Family Has Medical Needs

Many people rely on medical equipment or take temperature sensitive medications, which they need to plan around.  If you, your loved ones, or your neighbors fall into this category and rely upon saving medical equipment, you should register with the Medical Baseline Program at:

 

The Medical Baseline Program, also known as Medical Baseline Allowance, is an assistance program for residential customers who depend on power for certain medical and independent living needs. The program includes two different kinds of help:

 

  1. A lower rate on your monthly energy bill

  2. Extra notifications in advance of a Public Safety Power Shutoff

 

This doesn't mean your power won't go off, but it should provide extra time to find an alternate location to wait through the rolling blackouts, time to pack medications in coolers, and make additional alternative arrangements.

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How Long Will This Last?

Estimated restoration times are 1-2 hours after the outage starts. The situation remains dynamic and shutoff start times may change.

How Do I Stay Cool?

Since these situations typically occur during extreme heat, it's important to find ways to cool off your home to reduce the need for air-conditioning.  An easy thing for most is to air out your home at night, then close all the doors and windows and draw the curtains and blinds to keep the hot air out.

For more tips and tricks, check out:

https://www.bvnasj.org/post/keeping-cool-without-ac

Wet Dog

How Do I Know if This Outage is Planned?

If  your block isn't specifically called out for a rolling blackout, you are not expected to be included in that days rotating outage.

 

However, the supply and usage patterns are very dynamic so it's important to be prepared for possible outages, intentional or otherwise.

 

If you don't have power and your neighbors do, and you don't live along the edge of the power block, you may be experiencing an unrelated outage or additional problems that warrant a call to PG&E.

NOTICE

BVNA makes a best effort to provide accurate information about current events, rules, regulations, and municipal code; this site is not intended to provide legal advice and any questions about such areas should be directed to the appropriate City department.

ADDRESS

Buena Vista Neighborhood  Assc.

P.O. Box 26953
San Jose, CA 95159-6953

(408) 622.0602

BVNASJWebsite@gmail.com

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