Thank you for publishing "Shutoffs aren't the answer," an important commentary by Robert Lewin (July 25). Many people are wondering how the possible power shutdowns will affect them and their communities. But when the headlines fall off the front page of the daily paper without supplying much real information, we are already left in the dark.
Lewin's commentary, however, did not explain enough. Is it true that utility transmission lines are typically not even insulated wire? Are there no switching devices that work like a circuit breaker or ground fault interrupter to instantly shut down affected lines in the locale of a fire emergency? Is it possible in the highest risk (inaccessible, forested, and/or high-wind) geography to put transmission lines underground?
Most people have no idea what long-distance transmission lines serve which communities, nor do we understand how the power grid is mapped and where our electricity comes from. Have the utilities been required to publish maps of the high-risk areas and which communities would be affected?
I live in a Nipomo neighborhood with underground wiring, but we still lose power during storm or wind events outside my neighborhood. This happens repeatedly every season. I have solar panels supplying 95 percent of my needs, but I still lose power during such events. Now I am faced with the prospect of coughing up another $16,000 or more for a Tesla Powerwall to keep my own power on. Clearly, home generators are not a safe long-term solution, as explained in Kathe Tanner's intelligent article in the July 25 SLO Tribune ("Any option will be costly, even doing nothing").
I know of others in a lower density neighborhood who would also lose their water when the well pump loses power. And with a newborn infant in the family, going without water and power for days on end is not an acceptable option. The more rural the setting—and the higher the fire risk—the more likely that residents are dependent on water wells and electric pumps. But how can we know if the municipal water company will have electricity during a public safety power shutdown?
If the utility companies and other public entities believe it is the homeowner's responsibility to be prepared, then at the least they should be required to provide a great deal more information to help residents and communities prepare to be more energy independent.