CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times
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More than 300,000 PG&E customers remained without power on Friday, as the planned shut-off in Northern and Central California continued. (Catch up here.) The utility’s efforts to prevent its equipment from potentially starting wildfires created the largest planned blackout in state history.
Thousands of Southern Californians also lost power as the Santa Ana winds whipped through the region and evacuation orders were issued.
We answered your questions about how long the blackout might last, why it affected so many people and more.
And readers wrote in about their frustrations and their fears of another deadly blaze. Their comments have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
I live in the Dry Creek Valley of northwest Sonoma County. To set the stage — this is ag country: Our New York Times is delivered to our mailbox (a mile away), we have no trash service (we go to the dump), we cannot get cable, and we are on septic, use propane and have wells for our water. So losing power is a big deal.
These are all multimillion-dollar estate homes on acreage. The road from the valley up the mountain is barely single lane with vegetation on both sides and a steep canyon. Needless to say, a fire up here is potentially deadly.
Two years ago, we stood outside and watched the Pocket Fire one valley over to our left. We watched the Tubbs Fire to our right. And lying in bed, we could see Geyser Peak burning. There is no way to prepare for a firestorm. We have done all that we can to mitigate a local fire from spreading, but it takes one flying ember to ignite this whole valley. Will I sleep tonight? I doubt it. My go bags are packed. My dilemma at the moment is simply where to go.
— Annie Himmelstein, Sonoma County
It’s quite an emotional roller coaster at this time; many are wrestling with some anxiety around damage or loss they experienced two years ago.
I was born and raised in Santa Rosa. My childhood home was destroyed in the Tubbs Fire. Of the first 10 names released of those deceased, our family knew four of them, and two were my next-door neighbors growing up.
As most people did, I only learned of the power outage on Tuesday afternoon, while I was at work. Once my workday was over, I waited in a long line for gasoline at 6 p.m., and then went to the local market, where I bought some nonperishable foods. By the time I got there, all the flashlights, batteries, water — and strangely, all the bananas — were gone. I did the best I could to prepare for not having any power for up to five days, but how do you plan for that? There was no time to prepare for this outage; it came with just a few hours’ warning.
We’ve learned to be cautious and leery this time of year; 2019 is proving to be no different.
— Sari Meline, Santa Rosa
The way this whole debacle is being handled is a joke! 48 hours’ notice? Didn’t happen. Most people haven’t even had 24 hours’ notice.
That one company has the ability to disrupt safety, quality of life and livelihood for so many people simply because they chose to funnel profits to executives and investors instead of into improving their equipment and making it safer and up-to-date is inexcusable.
Are we all supposed to go out and buy generators, the cheapest of which are still hundreds of dollars and run on gasoline? The Bay Area is a technology powerhouse, yet why is truly affordable solar not standard on every rooftop?
— Michele Walczak Safine, Walnut Creek
[Read more: Could a virtual power plant counter the upfront costs for residential solar energy?]
And help us learn more: If you are affected by a planned outage, how are you dealing with it? What kinds of challenges have you faced? Email us at CAtoday@nytimes.com.
Where are the wildfire risks? Conditions in these areas are causing utility companies across the state to shut off service. [Buzzfeed News]
Just before their colleagues cut power to thousands of Californians, executives from the natural gas side of PG&E’s business wined and dined in Sonoma County — on the company dime. The company’s C.E.O. apologized and called the event “tone deaf.” [The San Francisco Chronicle]
Mothers are banding together to save breast milk in preparation for the blackouts. [NYT Parenting]
This year’s cabernet sauvignon harvest is being delayed because of the outages. This could result in a richer, more balanced vintage. [Bloomberg]
“As a Californian, I’m used to the fear of earthquakes,” a novelist in Oakland wrote in an op-ed. “With fire season, it’s a more active fear.” [The New York Times Opinion]
Here’s what else we’re following
We often link to sites that limit access for nonsubscribers. We appreciate your reading Times coverage, but we also encourage you to support local news if you can.
Check out our interactive map of auto emissions in America, which shows carbon dioxide from traffic in major metropolitan areas around the country. How does your area compare? [The New York Times]
The family of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man who was fatally shot by the Sacramento police, reached a $2.4 million settlement with the city this week. [The New York Times]
Two associates of Rudy Giuliani who helped his efforts to investigate the Bidens’ ties in Ukraine were arrested on campaign finance charges. [The New York Times]
SFO is moving ahead with plans to build a 10-mile sea wall around the airport to protect it from rising waters from the Bay. [The Mercury News]
Rich communities get more federal assistance to help Americans move away from disaster-prone areas that are affected by climate change, new data shows. [The New York Times]
Stockton began experimenting with universal basic income this year. But its mayor, Michael Tubbs, isn’t a fan of Andrew Yang’s approach of giving every American $1,000 a month. [The Sacramento Bee]
Why is wage inequality surging in California? [The Los Angeles Times]
NASA and SpaceX were feuding. Now they’re working on a new shared mission. [The New York Times]
“It might linger for a while,” Clayton Kershaw said after the Dodgers’ loss on Wednesday. “I might not get over it, I don’t know. But spring training’s going to come.” [The New York Times]
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.