The lights didn’t go out in East Quincy — here’s why

By Debra Moore

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East Quincy residents had been told their power would go out some time between 6 and 8 p.m. last night. People prepared. They canceled appointments, bought ice, pulled out their generators and lanterns, and waited. Even Plumas Unified School District board president Leslie Edlund warned those attending last night’s meeting via Zoom, that the power was set to go off, and there could be a brief interruption while the district’s own generator kicked in to power the servers. But nothing happened.

PG&E had been issuing updates as the power outage approached, but then all went quiet. The power stayed on. Residents were happy to have avoided the power disruption, but wanted to know why.

PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno explained that while the utility anticipated a power outage for East Quincy due to transmission line outages during the Public Safety Power Shutoff event, late yesterday it devised a way to keep power on safely by including East Quincy in the “island” of the the Caribou Powerhouse. He explained that “islanding” is when an area is isolated from the greater electric grid, but power is kept on by using a local generation source.

“So even though a transmission line conveying power to Caribou was de-energized during the PSPS event,” Moreno said, “we were able to use power generated by the Caribou powerhouse to continue to provide power to much of Plumas County and even found a way to expand that islanding and safely energize East Quincy, so no outage occurred there as was expected.”

He added, “We are sorry we were not able to communicate this quickly to customers, but we try not to make automated calls too late in the evening so we don’t disturb folks unless there’s an emergency.”

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