Location, Location, Location

It’s ironic. We’ve always had frequent power outages at our house — sometimes, it’s because the weather is too dry, sometimes because it’s wet, and sometimes because a car crashed into a pole a few blocks away.

But now that California is suffering through rotating power outages due to the amazingly screwed-up deregulation of the electric industry (and a lot of greed), I’ve discovered that we picked a very good location after all.

The PG&E service area is divided into 14 “outage blocks”. To find out what outage block you’re in, you look at your PG&E bill. When they need to shed load from the grid, each block is taken offline for an hour or so, to spread the misery.
But, for obvious reasons, they don’t want to turn off power to fire, police, or hospitals. And so, if you happen to share a circuit with a priority customer, you may not be in any outage block — and that appears to be the case for us, since there’s no indication of an outage block on our bill.

That doesn’t, of course, excuse us from saving energy — if the system is strained enough, unscheduled outages will follow, and that would be bad news. But it does mean I don’t have to worry about having the alarm not ring tomorrow morning.

I even did my part to help save energy at work today; not only did I turn off my computer when I left for the day, but I also defrosted my refrigerator (as a byproduct of turning it off — I decided that I didn’t need to run it to keep three bottles of water cold, at least not this week).

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