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Unscheduled power outages leave Corralitos customers frustrated, concerned with PG&E

The second outage in nearly two weeks was particularly worrisome with fire season in full effect in Santa Cruz County. “If there had been a fire, none of us would have known until the smoke was on us,” one Eureka Canyon resident said.

Nearly 2,400 Corralitos residents lost power again Tuesday — for the second time in nearly two weeks — and residents are frustrated.

The outage began at 7:53 a.m. and was restored for 2,354 customers as of 4:13 p.m; per PG&E spokesperson Mayra Tostado, 13 customers were still awaiting power just before 7 p.m. The cause of the outage was still under investigation.

For Eureka Canyon residents Anne Hayes and Daniel Mountjoy, Tuesday’s eight-hour outage was a tipping point, coming as it did after a six-hour outage on July 29. Customers did not receive a notification until 10 a.m., and were told to expect power restoration by noon.

Mountjoy went to downtown Corralitos to work remotely from the library, and soon came across five or six PG&E trucks. He spoke to one of the workers to learn a bit more about what had caused the outage.

“He said, the system is very sensitive and designed to be sensitive — if there’s any sort of a short, the entire area goes out,” Mountjoy said.

According to Tostado, this new policy is in direct correlation with PG&E’s efforts to take steps to mitigate the potential for equipment-sparked wildfires. The company hopes to increase the sensitivity of its fault-sensing devices to avoid further issues amid drought-intensified conditions.

Hayes and Mountjoy — who have lived in the area since 1995 — have taken steps to become more eco-friendly; they are currently remodeling their home to go 100% electric and wean themselves off propane in response to climate change. But the continued unplanned power outages have them considering a gas generator, which could cost thousands of dollars.

“We’re responding to climate-induced changes, and what it means in the short term is more carbon emissions — which is not good for the planet, or for us, or for PG&E,” Hayes said.

The couple said they were concerned that their internet and cable were also out Tuesday — which could have led to a dire issue if there were also a wildfire.

“Any ability for the community to mobilize and warn each other is completely gone when these power outages occur,” Mountjoy said. “If there had been a fire, none of us would have known until the smoke was on us.”

Lookout Santa Cruz’s Wildfire Resource Center is a one-stop guide to everything you need to keep your family and...

Further, as Hayes noted, it’s incredibly frustrating to not have a reason for these outages, and have to deal with complete and unexpected disruptions.

“PG&E can do a lot for itself and the rest of us if it kept us better informed about what’s going on,” she said.