Power outages affecting Nevada County businesses, residents | TheUnion.com

Power outages affecting Nevada County businesses, residents

Sam Corey
Staff Writer

Some people without power are wondering when they’ll get it back.

Al Jacobson is a retired, disabled veteran living in Nevada City.

“Everything’s fine right now,” he said, but he’s curious about when he will get power again.

Jacobson hasn’t had power at his home since 2:30 a.m. today. He charged his wheelchair yesterday to prepare for the situation.

“Things in the refrigerator or freezer might go bad,” he said, but otherwise “It’s fine. It’s all fine.”

Dan Suthers is a bit less optimistic. The Penn Valley resident acknowledged that PG&E needs to take precaution for wildfire but at the moment, access to water and taking care of his children has become more challenging.

“It’s definitely a struggle,” he said.

Power is out today across seven counties in northern California due to PG&E shutoffs in order to prevent a possible wildfire. Officials have said in an email some might be without power until Thursday.

Criteria for power shutoffs includes red flag warnings from the National Weather Service, dry conditions, humidity levels below 20%, sustained winds above 25 miles per hour and wind gusts above 45 miles per hour, as well as analysis from PG&E’s wildfire safety crew, according to the energy company’s website.

Schools

Several schools are closed today, and were closed Tuesday, due to the power outages. Today, they included Penn Valley, Chicago Park and Union Hill school districts in addition to the Nevada City School of The Arts.

Schools without power are losing money, possibly thousands of dollars, said Nevada County Superintendent of Schools Scott Lay, as the funding for students — between $45 and $51 per student per day — is not happening. There’s also things in fridges and freezers that are rotting.

“It’s frustrating,” said Lay, but “We support PG&E being proactive” and avoiding a Campfire-like situation.

Lay noted that it’s also difficult for parents.

The Nevada County Superintendent of Schools’ team is gathering at Earle Jamieson High School because its building is without power.

Nevada County schools do not have set no-school days, previously called “snow days,” by the California Department of Education, Lay said. As such, Lay said the county needs more guidance — possibly a formula — to determine how many no-school days a given school should be allocated.

“We started asking those questions in December of last year and we have not gotten the answer,” said Lay.

The number of no-school days varies by school district — some having four, others maintaining two. This is a problem for school districts like Penn Valley which has used up all its no-school days due to the power shutoffs.

BUSINESS

Many companies are losing money due to the power outage.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” said Faith Menig, who co-owns the Menig Automotive Group on Loma Rica Drive.

She understands why PG&E is taking precautions — she said she’s had friends who lost everything in the Paradise fire.

Still, in her area, there’s been very little wind and her business is losing money, likely hundreds of dollars if not more that will impact her not just today, but also a few days into the future. This is on top of the other frustrations that have been nagging her business, like lack of internet or a cell-phone connection.

While everything is fine in general, she wished the energy company found a way not to hurt businesses.

“I wish there was a way they could have affected their bottom line and not my bottom line,” she said.

The Sierra Energy Express store in Penn Valley, part of the 76 gas station, isn’t pumping gas. Stores in that area were closed, including Crazy 4 Yogurt.

The owner of Crazy 4 Yogurt, Traci Antonucci, said the store has lost about $3,000 over the last two days.

“I think, honestly, had they done their job and fixed the problem you wouldn’t have to shut down to prevent a problem,” she said of PG&E.

“If it’s going to help, I get it,” she said, “but still, it’s … What are you going to do?”

The nearby Evergreen Home Loans business also was closed.

Loan officer Chris Andrews thought the energy company should have been checking its lines throughout the year, instead of waiting until there was a wildfire scare.

A PG&E representative couldn’t be reached for comment.

“It’s not good for anybody,” he said, including real estate companies and restaurants in the area.

“The Subway, which is always busy as well, is closed,” he said. “I’m sure they’re suffering losses too.”

To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey email scorey@theunion.com or call 530-477-4219.


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