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At 10:55: Long lines at gas stations, generators buzzing, repeatedly walking into dark rooms and instinctively flicking on the light switch to no avail -- we all went through this together: Humboldt was forced into setting the mood by candlelight.

The epitomizing headline from the LA Times was: “Tempers flare as millions in California endure power outages from PG&E.” The private utility company billed this as a way to prevent a devastating wildfire due to heavy winds elsewhere in the state.

We asked: How can we ensure these shutoffs aren’t the new normal? Time will tell but this is certain: This was much bigger than flexing survival muscles, throwing off that morning cup of coffee, missing an episode of “Modern Family,” and forgoing a romantic night for one on your favorite porn site.

People were pissed. I saw a report that CHP in the Bay Area was looking into whether someone shot a PG&E truck. That’s just stupid, blaming workers out in the field for stuff they literally have no control over. These are people with families and lives outside of their employer’s policies. Look at the CEOs for change. Damnit -- even then -- leave the guns holstered, Yosemite Sam. Use your words, little guy.

Some people were less “guns drawn” about their analysis of PG&E’s energy blackout. Governor Gavin Newsom said being proactive is fine but he was hard on their leadership for not investing in upgrades. Congressman Jared Huffman questioned why they’d shut down such a large amount of the population -- especially in spots with less weather issues -- and noted big shutdowns like this cannot be the norm. State Senator Mike McGuire told us before everyone else when the power was about to come back on -- dude must’ve had a good source. And Assemblymember Jim Wood was super critical, saying: “...We pay more, they do less. These power outages cost people (money) when they can’t work, food spoils, and their health is affected when their medical equipment can’t access power. Humboldt gets less than 12 hours notice? It’s just outrageous.”

PG&E’s CEO told CNN: "I do apologize for the hardship but I think we made the right call on safety… I didn't come here to deal with the past. I came here to help improve the future. I might have some slight disagreements with the governor but I'm looking forward and I'm just trying to make this better.”

The outage did have certain benefits for some folks in Humboldt: Generator sales went up, power inverter sales went up, inquiries about renewable energy went up, gas stations were crazy busy, some businesses that remained open saw an uptick in sales and news coverage, the night sky was pretty, and web traffic had to be good for local news sites and their sponsors. Local media did a fantastic job of keeping us in the loop.

Food during the PG&E outage was another story. I chatted with restaurant owners that suffered thousands in losses. Perishables at grocery stores spoiled to the tune of dozens of thousands of dollars. You may ask: Will PG&E pay for that spoiled food? Nah, they say, because they did this shutoff for safety and we had power back in under two days. Same goes for lost wages, broken stuff, etc. You can still try to file a claim (if their website is reachable -- it went down during the shutoff). I mean, technically the wind event wasn’t happening in Humboldt, so you could try to frame it that way.

There was some seemingly sensible stuff out there about the intricacies of this. I read on Redheaded Blackbelt a guy from SoHum who’s taking engineering classes at Stanford basically said: Hey, PG&E wants to invest in underground transmission lines and better maintenance because then they can raise rates -- it’s in their capitalist interests. He pointed out it’s the Public Utility Commission who greenlight PG&E’s upgrades who’ve gotten in the way. He said the commission has been trying to keep our rates down. So essentially: If we want the goods, we have to pay for ’em.

And what about the PG&E power plant at King Salmon? Word had spread before last week’s outage that the plant was being considered for use in order to power things such as say, the hospital. That never happened. I posed this question to their PIO and on social media: “How can the King Salmon plant be readied to better serve Humboldt County during the next outage? Why was it not as helpful as we thought it would be?” Crickets so far. They’ve been busy. I’d heard that installing special “switches” would allow that to be more feasible in the future. I hope that investment occurs.

Besides being prepared and making sure our most fragile residents are in the best position to maintain health and safety, the final takeaway I’d like to mention about the PG&E outage is: Apocalypse jokes are fine. The Shanty in Eureka posted a sign saying: No apocalypse jokes. Well, excuse me if the depth of my humor doesn’t match the immense superiority of our Outstanding Leader and Brilliant Comrade The Shanty. I thought it would be hilarious to get a graphic artists to post on Humboldt County, California in pictures, old and new: Just this brutal hellscape orange-sky photo of the Carson Mansion, dumpsters ablaze, ash everywhere, and the horse-drawn chariot upside down (the new horse is fine in the made-up scenario, calm down). Like: “Is that the Madaket on the roof of the ‘mansion!? How did the red pandas escape from the zoo and why are they holding tiny machine guns!?” Let me live, Shanty.

The audio version of this contains additional commentary.

Also in the new episode:

Charmaigne Lawson advances federal court case against City of Arcata with documentary “Who Killed Josiah?” debuting in LA soon

Additional background following ex-fugitive’s SoHum murder conviction

County project set to exhale over $1.5M in cannabis grants, etc.

International media reports Humboldt export’s amusing cat-call encounter

Former Humboldt State teammates make big NFL and XFL news

And so much more. Plus an event guide and the attraction of the week.

You can also check out Humboldt Last Week Alternative Radio (HLW altRADIO). It’s a Humboldt radio station with new and nostalgia alternative music and quick local stories. Adds:


Humboldt Last Week episode 146 partners: Ferndale Music Company, Bongo Boy Studio, Trinidad Vacation Rental, North Coast Journal, Photography by Shi

Humboldt Last Week is available at humboldtlastweek.com, kymkemp.com,  northcoastjournal.com, and 99.1 FM Mondays