By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Sitting in the dark: Is this new normal for PG&E customers?
PGE logo

So the first big “wind event” has rocked Northern California and left more than a million people in the dark for a period of time. 

And, yet, Manteca, Lathrop, Ripon, and French Camp were spared – largely unaffected by the extended PG&E outage that drove up sales of generators over the summer and left the entire South County scrambling to come up with plans for what to do in the event entire cities went dark. 

In some ways, this was predictable – the areas where high winds may have brought down power lines and sparked a fire were the ones that appeared to be targeted during this round of shutoffs, but the general panic on social media and amongst those who didn’t know where to look to track the situation as it unfolded was fierce.

While I expected even a well-organized event to create panic, I didn’t expect misinformation to be quite as prevalent as it has been – especially misinformation that seemingly materialized out of thin air. The social media game always sets up the opportunity for distortions, but the things I have been hearing – and reading – have left my jaw agape more than once. 

So, maybe we can clear a few things up.

First, the effort by the South San Joaquin Irrigation District to take over power distribution for a good chunk of the South County has not been abandoned as it is it in the courts  So far SSJID has made several offers to PG&E to buy their existing distribution system to avoid a costly and protracted legal battle, and PG&E declined – which was what everyone expected would happen.  Now that Northern California’s largest power provider has filed for bankruptcy protection, however, those negotiations have to take a backseat while the utility navigates that hurdle and the families in places like Paradise that lost everything due to fires that were caused by aging and neglected powerlines get their chance to be made whole again. 

Not that you can ever accurately put a price on something like a life, or the memories of a home that is destroyed with little to no warning, but that process must come first. 

Also, SSJID did not find out that they can’t meet the 15 percent reduction that they claimed from the outset and therefore abandoned all current plans. The reduction is based on the simple fact that SSJID won’t have the massive overhead that PG&E currently has – private jets, executive bonuses, San Francisco real estate, etc. – and those savings will be passed directly onto the customers themselves.

While a good chunk of these comments came from, as far as I can tell, PG&E employees, I think it’s important to point out that thinking that the business and corporate dealings of an entity that has proven, time and again, that it values profits more than it does people is not the same as saying that everybody who works for the company is terrible. Are the decisions made by the company terrible? Sure. But that doesn’t mean that the guy who comes out to fix the meter or repair the downed line is terrible, that sort of all-or-nothing thinking is what allows corporate giants like PG&E to get away with the things they have pulled for decades. Stop giving them cover – they don’t deserve it. 

This may not be the last time this year that more than a million people are in the dark for an extended period. And, unfortunately, I think we have reached the new normal for California.

Pigskin Pickin’

After watching arguably the best high school football game of my entire life last week in Oakdale – Manteca was down 20-0 in the second quarter and rallied back to score 55 points in a soul-shaking shocker at The Corral to deal Oakdale a brutal defeat – I awoke to find that somehow Chris Teicheira (he of not paying his linguica debts) sits at the top of the leaderboard for the second week in a row. 

The one thing he doesn’t understand about his position is that when you’re at the top, you have farther to fall. So, I wish him luck for the last few weeks of the season as he tries to do something he hasn’t done very much of in this friendly little pool – actually win. 

Teicheira (10-5) – Rather than wasting any extra wind bloviating, Chris is all business this week – turning in nothing but his picks. Our current leader is choosing Manteca over Kimball, Oakdale over Sierra, the Rams over the 49ers, the Dolphins over the Redskins, and Grace Davis over Lathrop. 

Wohle (9-6) – While he’s within striking distance of the top spot, our resident pool boy will need the 49ers to beat the Rams to force a tie with Teicheira – Wohle is also taking Oakdale over Sierra, Manteca High over Kimball, the Dolphins over the Redskins, and Grace Davis over Lathrop. 

Campbell (8-7) – For some reason the guys at the bottom are the only ones who smart enough to pick my alma mater in their matchup with Oakdale (Sierra should have beat Central Catholic two weeks ago) and I think the final in that game is going to shock people. I’m also taking Manteca over Kimball, Lathrop over Grace Davis, the 49ers over the Rams, and the Dolphins over the Redskins. I may be the cellar-dweller at the end of this week, but at least I’ll still have my pride. 

Condit (7-8) – “Going with an anti-everyone theme last week turned out pretty bad for me, so I decided I would seek a higher source of inspiration this week which is why I’m channeling my picks through my good friend Marvin Tatum. Before passing away at the age of 83 this past week, Mr. Tatum served as the Superintendent of Manteca Unified School District for 5+ years in the late 90’s so I figure seeking inspiration through his spirit would lead to some more intelligent, informed, and inspired winners this week. Leaning into his service of our community for so many years I will take both Manteca schools to win this week; Manteca over Kimball and Sierra over Oakdale. As the one-time Principal of Lathrop Elementary back in the early 70’s, I of course choose Lathrop High School over Grace Davis. Attending college at Texas Wesleyan and Texas Christian in Fort Worth cemented his life-long fandom of the Dallas Cowboys, so I know there is no way he would ever pick the 49ers or Redskins to win a game. Gimme the Rams and Dolphins in the NFL this week. It was an honor and a pleasure to know Marvin – I hope aligning my picks with the spirit of this true Southern Gentleman will bring me some much needed wins this week.”

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.