OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - The ongoing PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff continues to cause frustration for business owners and elected officials. As the windy weather begins to subside, many are asking when their power will be restored so they can get back on track.
Many small businesses in Montclair Village in Oakland are closed until the lights come back on. Maria Chan owns Montclair Florist, and after restocking her flowers Wednesday, she returned this morning to what she called a disaster. “My flowers all opened up, they don’t seem very happy,” said Chan. “ I think we have to solve such a big problem for all the businesses. It’s bad for business.”
The Montclair neighborhood is just one of many that lost power in phase two of the shutoff. Earlier in the day, winds whipped through the area, knocking down stop signs at intersections with traffic light outages. The fire danger is apparent, but many politicians say the scale of the blackout is unacceptable. State Senator Scott Wiener said, “the Wild West doesn’t work.” He’s introduced a bill to restrict blackouts.
Normally bustling Montclair was quiet, except for businesses scrambling to save what they could. Employees at the Safeway quickly moved produce into refrigerated trucks. Jack Li kept his dry cleaner open, giving customers what he could reach, without power to move the rack.“We are extremely frustrated,” said Li. “We cannot do business in a normal way. Normally, we have lots of customers.”
Some economists estimate the outage will have a major impact. Michael Wara is the director of the energy and climate program at the Stanford Woods Institute. He said a 48-hour outage for 800,00 customers could cost residents and small, commercial and industrial businesses up to $2.5 billion.
Despite many of the stores in Montclair closing, CruFit gym stayed open, so people could let off some steam, some even bringing in lanterns for night classes. “It’s so important to be able to get out your frustration and make sure you’re healthy,” said Sally Friedman.
Back at Montclair Florist, Maria rushed out the door to make a birthday delivery, she didn’t want to miss. Like many affected, she said this is more than just a business for her, it’s her livelihood. “We don’t do business for a couple days, we don’t have money to pay the rent, pay the electricity, we are not a big company,” said Chan.