How did the PG&E power shutdown affect DVC students?

On Oct. 8, PG&E announced that they were shutting down power for as long as five days. (Photo courtesy of Warrior Trading News)

On Oct. 8, PG&E announced that they were shutting down power for as long as five days. (Photo courtesy of Warrior Trading News)

Kat Uher, Staff member

Last week, PG&E initiated a power outage across Contra Costa County in an effort to prevent its power lines from sparking blazes. The shutoffs impacted more than 800,000 customers statewide, but locally, many students at Diablo Valley College didn’t notice a change.

Maliah Drake, a DVC student living in Martinez, said she stayed informed about power shutdown updates throughout the week, although she wasn’t personally affected by the outage. As an employee in Martinez, she was told that the outage would be delayed.

Drake said she thought that only certain counties, those most likely to be affected by high winds, should have their electricity shut down.  

“I think looking at the specific areas that are in direct danger of the high winds would be more reasonable,” she said. “But I don’t think doing such a wide outage was necessary. Just because there are a lot of people affected by the winds doesn’t mean there aren’t people unaffected by lack of electricity, like diabetic people who need their insulin refrigerated.”

Naomi Elizabeth-Kurtz, a sophomore from Solano County, said she had mixed feelings on whether PG&E’s decision was the right one.

“When I was getting up this morning, I thought it was definitely inconvenient, but I think it’s worth it if it ends up saving lives,” Elizabeth-Kurtz said. “I wasn’t aware of it happening until last night, but now people have been getting notifications for a week, so it’s good that they gave a forewarning.”

If such a situation occurred again, Kurtz said she would expect to get notifications sooner. Since the blackout was expected to last about five days, she prepared with a plan – but wasn’t able to address all her needs.

“My house has a generator, so we can still keep some things running,” she said. “I wish we’d known about it before we went grocery shopping, because now our fridge doesn’t run. Now there is an issue with our water supply, so I don’t know how you prepare for that.”

Katie Pan, a junior from Alameda County, also had back-up plans, such as obtaining emergency kits and a solar charger. From a practical perspective, she said she wasn’t particularly concerned about the outcomes of the shutoff.

“It’s only for a few days,” she said. “We have radios and we can hear the news from there.”

As to whether PG&E should handle such situations differently in the future, Pan said she didn’t think so.

“PG&E already has a lot on their plate,” she said. “If they let us know on the news as soon as possible, it’s going to be all right.”