VACAVILLE (KPIX) — Warm, dry winds were expected to increase in the North and East Bay Mountains on Sunday night, leading into Monday morning. With them came a new set of alerts about possible Public Safety Power Shutoffs from PG&E. And, while most of the Bay Area won’t be affected by them, there are places like Vacaville in Solano County where power outages are so common that people living there have learned to adapt to them.
Vacaville is accustomed to windy afternoons. Cal Fire spokesman Tyree Zander said the mountains around it create a wind-tunnel effect.
“As the wind hits the mountains, it can either go around or up and over, which could cause erratic winds or higher wind speeds in the valleys,” he said.
Those conditions are expected to prevail late Sunday night on Marbella Lane. PG&E alerted the entire neighborhood that the power would probably be cut overnight, leaving neighbors to the task of filling their tubs and sinks with water and checking the batteries in their flashlights.
“We’ve had so many fires in the last two, three years that it just scares us to death and we have to adapt to that,” said neighbor Tammy Mattson. “If turning the power off is going to help prevent a fire, then we have to deal with that.”
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Getting power shutoff alerts has become a regular occurrence for people living along rural Gibson Canyon Road.
“I got it earlier this morning, probably around 10 a.m. perhaps,” said Brigitte Bauer, who didn’t seem surprised.
Bauer has placed windmills around her small ranch to monitor wind speed and direction. She worried about the outages since she has an extra refrigerator and freezer full of meat in her garage. Because she’s on a well, a power shutoff would mean no water for her livestock. So she decided to stop worrying and look for ways to adapt to the situation, like bringing outside light indoors.
“Grab one of your solar lights from outdoors, pop it right into a container — like a vase — and you’re good to go,” she said.
Bauer also bought a portable generator but that became a nightmare in itself “having to plug in all of the refrigerators and running cords through the house,” she recalled.
So, Bauer pulled the trigger and bought a large, whole-house generator, wired directly into her home’s electrical system. It wasn’t cheap but now she and the neighbors who followed her lead, don’t have to panic about the power going off. In addition to keeping her food from spoiling, it comes with the satisfaction of being able to deal with tough times.
“It’s just fantastic knowing that you can sit and be watching TV and you hear the power go out and you’re OK,” she said. “Your food in the freezer is going to be OK.”