CSUEB students impacted by PG&E public safety power shut off

By Kelsey Marasigan, CONTRIBUTOR

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Students of California State University, East Bay felt the impact of the PG&E mandated Public Safety Power Shut Off making it difficult for commuters to get to campus.
PG&E is a privately owned electric company with control over the entire Bay Area’s power supply. The company was blamed for the fires that destroyed thousands of homes last year and were sued for reparations by the families impacted. The company claimed this power shutdown was done for the safety of the public, with the outages focusing mostly on forested areas while leaving service uninterrupted in major urban areas.
Within hours of their announcement, residents of the Bay Area began preparing for the shutoff. Gas stations filled up so quick that vehicles were lined up onto the street. Shelves were emptied at grocery stores where residents were getting essential items such as ice, water, flashlights and candles.
CSUEB is a commuter school, meaning a large majority of their students drive, sometimes hours, to get to campus. Mass power outages make it hard for those students to make it to their class on time and safely.
David Dube, a CSUEB student, commutes over an hour to get to campus. With the stress of the power outage, his local grocery store felt the effect.
“The power shut off definitely caused a sense of panic, people didn’t know what to do. The Lucky’s near me was closed and before that everyone rushed to stock up on water and ice,” Dube said.
While the power shut off directly affected his town, Dube didn’t let it change his commute.
“As far as the commute, besides the tunnel, it was pretty regular,” Dube said. “There were 27 generators giving power to the Caldecott Tunnel and the other side was closed so that backed up traffic pretty good. It almost seemed like there were less cars on the road for the most part.”
While PG&E did not communicate to the public effectively about the power outage, Dube believed CSUEB did its best in informing students and staff.
“I feel the school tried their best to keep the students updated. I just am disappointed in PG&E as I am with local government as they have had ample time to plan for such major outages.”
Other commuter students took to social media to share how the planned blackouts have affected them. The comments section on CSUEB’s Instagram post regarding the power outages were flooded with concerned students. Some claimed that keeping campuses open during the power outages, and failing to give consistent updates for students is unprofessional.
Hayward city officials warned the public to remain in their homes and to stay off the streets for concern of traffic and street lights not operating. Many CSUEB students found it difficult to get to campus, which hindered them from attending class.
Initially, it was unclear how long the Public Safety Power Shut Off would last. PG&E originally stated it could last up to 3-7 days. The shut off lasted about 4 days, with OG&E customers having their power turned back on Saturday afternoon. Hopefully this comes as a wake up call to the public to be prepared for any major emergency. They can hit at any moment, and you don’t want to be caught unprepared.