After a tumultuous month where planned power outages by PG&E caused thousands of elderly, poor, and disabled residents to suffer in Northern California, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a new partnership among numerous organizations and cities with the intent to alleviate anything detrimental in future blackouts.
The new partnership will be established within the California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS). The Public Safety Power Shutoff Planning Team will help make sure that those in need of medical during blackouts will receive it. The CHHS will also be working with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and United Domestic Workers (UDW) to make sure that all in-home care will continue during a planned blackout.
Several other agencies will also work with the CHHS for outreach among those in need of medications and medical devices. Medical facilities will also receive extra support to ensure that medical devices, such as kidney dialysis machines, remain on during outages. Those who may need help can also now fill out an action plan in case of any future outages.
“Power shutoffs continue to put California’s most vulnerable residents at risk,” stated Governor Newsom in a press release. “These proactive steps will help us protect medically vulnerable residents and ensure that there is a continuity of care for individuals in health and community care facilities across the state.”
CHHS Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly also gave a statement on the new statewide program. “Our top priority has been, and will continue to be, the health and well-being of the most vulnerable, which includes older Californians, individuals with disabilities, and those with medical needs,” said Ghaly. “We are working hard to help ensure that California’s most vulnerable are prepared.”
The sweeping response to helping those in need receive greater assistance during blackouts has been the latest announcement from Californian lawmakers in regards to the blackouts and the company causing the majority of them, PG&E. The Governor has given numerous speeches against the utility company during the month, including a call for PG&E to compensate every customer for the blackout. Republican lawmakers have proposed their own plans on infrastructure upgrades and entire cities such as San Jose have been weighing the decision to leave PG&E.
With millions of angry PG&E customers, future legislation against blackouts is almost certain for the next Senate and Assembly sessions in Sacramento. Governor Newsom is also likely to enact more changes in the coming months. Meanwhile, PG&E, as well as other electric companies in California, afraid of lawsuits against accidentally starting wildfires, will most likely enact further blackouts as wildfire season rages on across the state.