Here is a copy of the letter I am sending to all my legislators and to the governor ("Blackout," Oct. 17). I urge everyone to contact their legislators and the governor.
PG&E's latest outrage was not acceptable. It had nothing to do with fire safety in my area, Humboldt County, and I suspect damn little to do with safety in any area. It was extortion presented as political theater.
Regarding a Public Utility's responsibility for fires started by their equipment: If the company was guilty of gross negligence, something all too believable in the case of PG&E, then of course they should be held responsible. But when their equipment is up to date and properly maintained, meeting current safety standards and laws, then a resulting fire is called an Act of God and the utility should not be responsible. I suspect PG&E has been held responsible for too many of the later, and hence their reaction. Their outrage was still not acceptable.
David Callow, McKinleyville
Mary Sanger is woefully ill informed to believe that the proposed Terra-Gen corporate wind farm would somehow provide "more renewable energy generation right here where we need it" (Mailbox, Oct. 17). In fact, the exact opposite is true.
Power from the wind farm proposed for Monument and Bear River ridges would only feed the existing grid. If PG&E again shuts off power to our area, then this source of electricity would go down, as well.
Also, in a bitter irony, the Terra-Gen wind farm would require 25 miles of new grid tie-in lines strung through tinder-dry brush and forest — thus increasing the very risk of fire that is causing the power shutoffs in the first place.
Considering the devastating impacts that wind power would have on the fragile and irreplaceable habitat of Monument and Bear River ridges, and understanding that the project would significantly increase the threat of fire in our area while providing zero energy resilience, it's obvious that the project should be abandoned.
The only real means of achieving energy resilience is in solar-powered microgrids, as proven during blackout by the Blue Lake Rancheria. Solar is safe and efficient, increasingly affordable, could provide all the power we need and — something that Terra-Gen would like you to forget — it would put the power and profits of energy generation back into the hands of the people.
Greg King, Arcata
If you were discomforted without PG&E electricity for 24 hours, you should be delighted to know that you have proven, lower cost choices to avoid such discomfort in the future.
The Blue Lake Rancheria's solar rooftop system clearly demonstrated that achieving energy independence is possible with preparation, allocation of resources and political commitment. Solar is prudent, available, reliable, cost effective and a good investment.
Rather than prioritizing implementation of widespread solar, Redwood Coast Energy Agency has focused on expensive, utility scale onshore wind with dangerous transmission lines through fire-prone forests.
Our policy makers need to proactively deploy a variety of appropriate distributed energy strategies, including installing solar panels on county buildings, infrastructure, equipment yards and parking lots to realize the resilience so critical to our county during emergencies.
Instead, our policy makers and supervisors are surrendering obscene profits at our expense to Terra-Gen, rather than developing energy independence for us constituents. This is not doing our part to alleviate the climate emergency, but rather is conceding to a colonizing global powerhouse whose mission is to increase, not reduce, energy use.
Electricity from biomass and Terra-Gen costs $50 to $65 per megawatt or more than five times as much as my rooftop solar, and we would own nothing after decades of payments; yet RCEA has deployed far less than 8 megawatts of solar of its 30-megawatt goal.
RCEA ignores the opportunity to support agriculture by placing translucent bifacial solar panels over fields in Rohnerville, Loleta, Kneeland and the Arcata flats while conducting agriculture beneath.
As we commemorate Indigenous Peoples, and look back in horror at the genocide and ecocide committed by our local founding fathers, we can finally honor the wisdom of the Wiyot Tribe, which opposes Terra-Gen's industrial wind factory — and solarize, not cannibalize, our precious resources.
Jesse Noell, Elk River
It's hard to read the PG&E blackout story without appreciating this opportunity to learn to solarize our county. The day of the "blackout" was plenty sunny to keep the fridge going with a few solar panels, overnighting to the next day.
Those few with solar panels and batteries were fine, often powering one or two critical circuits. We realized that mini-solar grids could serve multiple dwellings and neighborhoods, sharing energy. At least one techie with an electric vehicle lit his home with his car battery.
Social media flooded us with advice, with one solar expert offering to finance rooftop solar for the cost of a PG&E bill.
We learned the crucial distinction between centralized and distributed power generation, the former coming from the grid, the latter originating close to where it is used. And we learned that over-reliance on the grid and its incendiary transmission lines, even if our local production were "islanded," leaves us vulnerable, especially in real emergencies that cut us off from services and each other. Terra-Gen's wind factory would not have helped.
Mad River Hospital's diesel generators consumed 10 gallons an hour, pumping 220 pounds of CO2 per hour into our climate emergency. Multiply that by the 100 generators sold out in one day at one store, and multiply that by 100 around the county, add in all the greenhouse gasses (GHGs) from drilling, refining and barging those fossil fuels, and you have a recipe for climate suicide.
With distributed solar, we can reduce our energy consumption and GHG emissions, have secure resilience during emergencies, fuel electric vehicles affordably and own our mini-solar systems over time. It's the best way for us to do our part for the climate emergency. Now that we are smarter, do we have the political will?
Ken Miller, McKinleyville
If we learned one thing from the blackout, it's this: Humboldt County needs to use what power it can generate here and not depend on the grid.
But we knew that one. With a history of a rugged embrace of living close to the ground, living within our means and independent of the over-developed south, Humboldt pioneered the "off the grid" life decades ago. (Some may say centuries ago.)
Let's not fear the next step and, following in the path laid down by the Blue Lake Rancheria, truly be responsible for our electrical needs. Rooftop solar and other renewables should be organized into decentralized local power grids. PG&E's one-grid-fits-all model is unreliable, vulnerable and requires hugely expensive upgrades and maintenance. Now is the time to transition out of that failing grid into something that reflects our strengths and values.
It is fitting that both Blue Lake and Wiyot people are leading the way. The mega wind farm around Scotia would be a step backward: tearing up the countryside, exporting power and dollars and, with increasing frequency, leaving us powerless.
Michael Evenson, Petrolia