Tag Archives: Power

New 3D-Printed Antenna Can Harvest Power From 5G Signals

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Carriers are rolling out 5G networks across the globe, promising to deliver lightning-fast data to devices of all shapes and sizes. So far, the speed claims of 5G have been little more than smoke and mirrors. However, the architects of 5G technology may have unwittingly provided the key to wireless power. A team at Georgia Tech has developed a small, 3D-printed antenna that can harvest power from 5G waves. This technology has the potential to turn wireless data networks into a wireless power grid. 

5G comes in several different flavors, each one with its own advantages and disadvantages. There’s low-band 5G that operates in the range of several hundred megahertz, offering good range but lower speeds. Mid-band signals on the order of a few gigahertz can provide much higher speeds in exchange for a modest reduction in range. Both of those are classified as sub-6GHz; once you get over 6GHz, you’re in the realm of millimeter-wave 5G, going as high as 40GHz in the US. That’s what Verizon and AT&T started with because that spectrum was readily available and very, very fast. The problem? Very little range. 

Some past attempts to harvest power from wireless signals have focused on Wi-Fi, which tops out at a few gigahertz like mid-band 5G, but millimeter wave (mmWave) is a whole different story. Millimeter-wave (mmWave) 5G can transmit multiple gigabits per second because of its high frequency and power, and that means there’s more potential energy to harvest. This, too, has been demonstrated, but these demos needed a large rectifying antenna. The larger the antenna, the narrower its field of view, making it impractical for energy harvesting. The tiny cards developed by the Georgia Tech team solve this problem by adding a component called a Rotman lens — the spiky shape in the middle (above).

A 5G millimeter-wave cell site on a light pole in Minneapolis.

Rotman lenses are already widely used in 5G beam-forming applications. They can reshape a single narrow beam into multiple simultaneous beams covering a wider area. That’s why the Georgia Tech antenna is so tiny and efficient — it pulls in 21 times more power than a standard rectifying antenna of the same size. 

However, we’re still not talking about a huge amount of power. The high-frequency mmWave signal generates about 6 microwatts of power at 180 meters (590 feet) from a 5G transmitter. That’s also with unobstructed line-of-sight; mmWave signals are too high-frequency to pass through walls, but that’s also what makes them easier to harness for wireless power.

A few microwatts is still enough to power sensors and simple IoT gadgets, eliminating the need for batteries. The team believes that wireless power could become a transformative 5G technology, but that’s probably only true if carriers figure out how to charge for it.

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Power restored to more Texas residents, but water crisis persists during deep freeze

Power was restored to more homes and businesses in Texas on Thursday after a deadly blast of winter this week overwhelmed the electrical grid and left millions shivering in the cold. But the crisis is far from over, with many people still in need of safe drinking water.

Fewer than a half million homes remained without electricity, although utility officials said limited rolling blackouts could still occur.

The storms also left more than 320,000 homes and businesses without power in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. About 70,000 power outages persisted after an ice storm in eastern Kentucky, while nearly 67,000 were without electricity in West Virginia.

And more than 100,000 customers remained without power Thursday in Oregon, a week after a massive snow and ice storm. Maria Pope, the CEO of Portland General Electric, said she expects power to be restored by Friday night to more than 90 per cent of the customers still in the dark.

Meanwhile, snow and ice moved into the Appalachians, northern Maryland and southern Pennsylvania, and later the Northeast. Back-to-back storms left 38 centimetres of snow in Little Rock, Ark., tying a 1918 record, the National Weather Service said.

The extreme weather has been blamed for the deaths of at least 40 people, some while trying to keep warm. In the Houston area, one family died from carbon monoxide as their car idled in their garage. A woman and her three grandchildren died in a fire that authorities said might have been caused by a fireplace they were using.

Utilities from Minnesota to Texas implemented rolling blackouts to ease the burden on strained power grids. Southwest Power Pool, a group of utilities covering 14 states from the Dakotas to the Texas Panhandle, said rolling blackouts were no longer needed, but it asked customers to conserve energy until at least Saturday night.

Drinking water affected

In Texas on Thursday, about 325,000 homes and businesses remained without power, down from about three million on Wednesday. The state’s grid manager, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, said the remaining outages are largely weather-related, rather than forced outages that were made early Monday to stabilize the power grid.


A sign advises customers entering a convenience store that they have no running water. Residents of Arlington, Texas, were told to conserve and boil water after a potential water main break. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News/The Associated Press)

“We will keep working around the clock until every single customer has their power back on,” said ERCOT senior director of system operations Dan Woodfin.

Woodfin warned that rotating outages could return if electricity demand rises as people get power and heating back, though they would not last as long as outages earlier this week.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott warned that state residents “are not out of the woods,” with temperatures remaining well below freezing statewide and south-central Texas threatened by a winter storm.

Adding to the state’s misery, the weather jeopardized drinking water systems. Authorities ordered seven million people — a quarter of the population in the nation’s second-largest state — to boil tap water before drinking it following days of record-low temperatures that damaged infrastructure and pipes.

Water pressure has fallen across the state because lines have frozen, and many residents are leaving faucets dripping in hopes of preventing pipes from freezing, said Toby Baker, executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Abbott urged residents to shut off water to their homes, if possible, to prevent more busted pipes and to preserve pressure in municipal systems.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said he expects that residents in the nation’s fourth-largest city will have to boil tap water before drinking it until Sunday or Monday.

Hospitals cancel some surgeries

In Austin, some hospitals faced a loss in water pressure and, in some cases, heat.

“Because this is a state-wide emergency situation that is also impacting other hospitals within the Austin area, no one hospital currently has the capacity to accept transport of a large number of patients,” said David Huffstutler, CEO of St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, in a statement.


A patient at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center is prepared for transport. Earlier on Wednesday, hospital officials said some patients at the facility would be moved over to other hospitals in the area after the building began losing heat due to low water pressure. (Bronte Wittpenn/Austin American-Statesman/The Associated Press)

Two of Houston Methodist’s community hospitals had no running water but still treated patients, with most non-emergency surgeries and procedures cancelled for Thursday and possibly Friday, said spokesperson Gale Smith.

Emergency rooms were crowded “due to patients being unable to meet their medical needs at home without electricity,” Smith said. She said hospital pipes had burst but were repaired.

Texas Children’s Hospital’s main campus at the Texas Medical Center and another location had low water pressure, but the system was adequately staffed and patients had enough water and “are safe and comfortable,” spokesperson Jenn Jacome said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sent generators to support water treatment plants, hospitals and nursing homes in Texas, along with thousands of blankets and ready-to-eat meals, officials said. The Texas Restaurant Association also said it was co-ordinating donations of food to hospitals.

WATCH | Some Texas gas stations run out of fuel:

Extreme winter weather in Texas has delayed delivery of gasoline to some fuel stations in northern Texas, leaving drivers to scramble. 0:42

Mayor resigns 

The now former mayor of Colorado City, Texas, said he had already turned in his resignation when he wrote a controversial Facebook post on Tuesday.

Tim Boyd said it was not the local government’s responsibility to help those suffering in the cold without power. “Only the strong will survive and the weak will parish,” the typo-ridden post, which was made as millions in Texas were without power following the storm, said.

Boyd also wrote that he was “sick and tired” of people looking for handouts and that the current situation is “sadly a product of a socialist government.”

Boyd deleted his post but stood by the sentiments in a follow-up message. He also wrote that his original message was posted as a private citizen, not the mayor of Colorado City.


Father John Szatkowski, left, and Deacon Bob Bonomi of St. Paul the Apostle Church in Richardson sweep water out of the church. (Tony Gutierrez/The Associated Press)

“I was only making the statement that those folks that are too lazy to get up and fend for themselves but are capable should not be dealt a handout,” Boyd’s follow-up post said.

Turtles rescued from cold

Thousands of sea turtles unused to cold temperatures have been washing up on the beaches of South Padre Island, off the southern coast of Texas.

WATCH | Hundreds of sea turtles shelter in Texas convention centre to escape cold:

Volunteers in South Padre Island, Tex., have rescued about 2,500 sea turtles who ran ashore to escape icy waters and are now being warmed at a convention centre. 1:10

Ed Caum, executive director of the South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the turtles are “cold-stunned.” That’s a condition where cold-blooded animals suddenly exhibit hypothermic reactions such as lethargy and an inability to move when the temperature in the environment around them drops.

Volunteers have brought some 4,700 of them to the convention centre, where they are being kept in tubs and enclosures before they can be released when the weather warms up.

Although, as this Tik Tok user demonstrated on Tuesday, fish weren’t faring much better in their indoor tanks during the blackouts.

‘An extreme challenge’ in Mississippi

The weather also disrupted water systems in several southern cities, including New Orleans and Shreveport, La., where fire trucks delivered water to hospitals and bottled water was brought in for patients and staff, Shreveport television station KSLA reported.

Power was cut to a New Orleans facility that pumps drinking water from the Mississippi River. A spokesperson for the Sewerage and Water Board said on-site generators were used until electricity was restored.

And in Jackson, Miss., Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said almost the entire city of about 150,000 was without water Thursday night.


A person warms up using a combination of towels, clothes and gloves in the warming shelter at the Johnnie Champion Community Center in Jackson, Miss., on Wednesday. Some people at the shelter had lost power, water and heat at their homes following winter storms, but many are people experiencing homelessness. (Rogelio V. Solis/The Associated Press)

Crews were pumping as much water as possible to refill the city’s tanks, but there was a shortage of chemicals to treat the water, and road closures made it difficult for distributors to make deliveries, Lumumba said.

“We are dealing with an extreme challenge with getting more water through our distribution system,” he said. “This becomes increasingly challenging because we have so many residents at home.”

Drinking water was made available at fire stations throughout Jackson, and officials also planned to set up bottled water pickup sites.

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CBC | World News

Texas power outages below 500,000, but water crisis persists during deep freeze

Power was restored to more Texans on Thursday, with fewer than a half-million homes remaining without electricity, but many still were without safe drinking water after winter storms wreaked havoc on the state’s power grid and utilities this week.

Meanwhile, the Appalachians, northern Maryland and southern Pennsylvania braced for heavy snow and ice. Snow fell in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. Little Rock, Ark., got 38 centimetres of snow in back-to-back storms, tying a 1918 record, the National Weather Service said.

More than 320,000 homes and businesses were without power in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. In Tennessee, 12 people were rescued from boats after a dock weighed down by snow and ice collapsed on the Cumberland River on Wednesday night, the Nashville Fire Department said.

The extreme weather has been blamed for the deaths of more than three-dozen people, some of whom perished while struggling to keep warm. In the Houston area, one family succumbed to carbon monoxide from car exhaust in their garage. A woman and her three grandchildren died in a fire that authorities said might have been caused by a fireplace they were using.


Father John Szatkowski, left, and Deacon Bob Bonomi of St. Paul the Apostle Church in Richardson sweep water out of the church. (Tony Gutierrez/The Associated Press)

Cruz acknowledges Mexico travel

Meanwhile, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz acknowledged on Thursday that he had travelled to Mexico for a family vacation this week, leaving his home state as thousands of constituents struggled after the powerful winter storm.

The high-profile Republican, a potential White House candidate in 2024, said in a statement that he had accompanied his family after his daughters asked to go on a trip with friends, given that school was cancelled for the week.

“Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon,” Cruz said after The Associated Press and other media outlets had reported details of the trip.

“My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas,” Cruz said. “We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm.”

The revelation drew immediate criticism from Democrats and Republicans in Texas and beyond as Cruz, a key ally of former president Donald Trump, contemplates the possibility of a second presidential run. The two-term senator’s current term expires in early 2025.

“That’s something that he has to answer to his constituents about,” state Republican Party Chairman Allen West said when asked whether Cruz’s travel was appropriate while Texans are without power and water.

“I’m here trying to take care of my family and look after my friends and others that are still without power. That’s my focus.”


Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is under fire following the revelation he travelled to Mexico on Wednesday for a family vacation as his home state struggled with extreme weather. (Erin Scott/Reuters)

Earlier, Cruz’s office had declined to answer specific questions about the family vacation, but his staff reached out to the Houston Police Department on Wednesday afternoon to say the senator would be arriving at the airport, according to department spokesperson Jodi Silva. She said officers “monitored his movements” while Cruz was at the airport.

Silva could not say whether such requests are typical for Cruz’s travel or whether his staff has made a similar request for his return flight.

The Texas senator, who once described Trump as a “pathological liar,” championed the-then president’s call to block the certification last month of Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory. That stand led to calls for Cruz’s resignation after a violent mob stormed the Capitol as Congress was affirming Biden’s win.

“Ted Cruz had already proven to be an enemy to our democracy by inciting an insurrection. Now, he is proving to be an enemy to our state by abandoning us in our greatest time of need,” Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said Thursday. “For the 21st time, the Texas Democratic Party calls on Ted Cruz to resign or be expelled from office.”

Drinking water affected

In Texas, just under 500,000 homes and businesses remained without power, down from about three million on Wednesday. The state’s grid manager, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, said the remaining outages are largely weather-related, rather than forced outages that were made early Monday to stabilize the power grid.

“We will keep working around the clock until every single customer has their power back on,” said ERCOT senior director of system operations Dan Woodfin.

Adding to the misery, the snowy weather has jeopardized drinking water systems throughout the state.

Texas officials ordered seven million people — a quarter of the population in the nation’s second-largest state — to boil tap water before drinking it following days of record-low temperatures that damaged infrastructure and froze pipes.

In Austin, some hospitals faced a loss in water pressure and, in some cases, heat.


A patient at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center is prepared for transport. Earlier on Wednesday, hospital officials said some patients at the facility would be moved over to other hospitals in the area after the building began losing heat due to low water pressure. (Bronte Wittpenn/Austin American-Statesman/The Associated Press)

“Because this is a state-wide emergency situation that is also impacting other hospitals within the Austin area, no one hospital currently has the capacity to accept transport of a large number of patients,” said David Huffstutler, CEO of St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, in a statement.

Water pressure has fallen across the state because lines have frozen, and many residents are leaving faucets dripping in hopes of preventing pipes from freezing, said Toby Baker, executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott urged residents to shut off water to their homes, if possible, to prevent more busted pipes and to preserve pressure in municipal systems.

Supplies run short

Grocery store shelves have gone bare in several Texas cities, including Austin and Lewisville. Frozen goods had to be disposed of after the blackouts.

Gas shortages have also hit parts of the state as people search for fuel for their vehicles and back-up generators. Some oil production facilities, responsible for an estimated three million barrels per day, remain offline.

WATCH | Some Texas gas stations run out of fuel:

Extreme winter weather in Texas has delayed delivery of gasoline to some fuel stations in northern Texas, leaving drivers to scramble. 0:42

Mayor resigns over insensitive comments

The now former mayor of Colorado City, Texas said he had already turned in his resignation when he wrote a controversial Facebook post on Tuesday.

Tim Boyd said it was not the local government’s responsibility to help those suffering in the cold without power. “Only the strong will survive and the weak will parish,” the typo-ridden post said.

Boyd also wrote that he was “sick and tired” of people looking for handouts and that the current situation is “sadly a product of a socialist government.”

The post was made as millions in Texas were without power following the storm. Utilities from Minnesota to Texas and Mississippi implemented rolling blackouts to ease the burden on power grids straining to meet extreme demand for heat and electricity.

Boyd deleted his post but stood by the sentiments in a follow-up message. He also wrote that his original message was posted as a private citizen, not the mayor of Colorado City.


A woman collects ice cream that had been thrown out because of power outages at a Kroger store in Arlington. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News/The Associated Press)

“I was only making the statement that those folks that are too lazy to get up and fend for themselves but are capable should not be dealt a handout,” Boyd’s follow-up post said.

Turtles rescued from cold

Thousands of sea turtles unused to cold temperatures have been washing up on the beaches of South Padre Island, off the southern coast of Texas.

Ed Caum, executive director of the South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the turtles are “cold-stunned.” That’s a condition where cold-blooded animals suddenly exhibit hypothermic reactions such as lethargy and an inability to move when the temperature in the environment around them drops.

WATCH | Hundreds of sea turtles shelter in Texas convention centre to escape cold:

Volunteers in South Padre Island, Tex., have rescued about 2,500 sea turtles who ran ashore to escape icy waters and are now being warmed at a convention centre. 1:10

Volunteers have brought some 4,700 of them to the convention centre, where they are being kept in tubs and enclosures before they can be released when the weather warms up.

Although, as this Tik Tok user demonstrated on Tuesday, fish weren’t faring much better in their indoor tanks during the blackouts.

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CBC | World News

At least 30 dead, several million still without power in U.S. after days of extreme weather

Utility crews raced Wednesday to restore power to nearly 3.4 million customers around the U.S. who were still without electricity or heat in the aftermath of a deadly winter storm, and another blast of ice and snow threatened to sow more chaos.

The latest storm front was expected to bring more hardship, especially to states that are unaccustomed to such frigid weather — parts of Texas, Arkansas and the Lower Mississippi Valley.

“There’s really no letup to some of the misery people are feeling across that area,” said Bob Oravec, lead forecaster with the U.S. National Weather Service, referring to Texas.

The system was forecast to move into the Northeast on Thursday. More than 100 million people live in areas covered by some type of winter weather warning, watch or advisory, the weather service said.

At least 30 people have died in the extreme weather this week, some while struggling to find warmth inside their homes. In the Houston area, one family succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning from car exhaust in their garage. Another perished as they used a fireplace to keep warm.

Record low temperatures were reported in city after city. Scientists say the polar vortex, a weather pattern that usually keeps to the Arctic, is increasingly spilling into lower latitudes and staying there longer, and global warming is partly responsible.

Rolling blackouts

Utilities from Minnesota to Texas and Mississippi have implemented rolling blackouts to ease the burden on power grids straining to meet extreme demand for heat and electricity. In Mexico, rolling blackouts Tuesday covered more than one-third of the country after the storms in Texas cut the supply of imported natural gas.

WATCH | Millions without power as much of U.S. recovers from major winter storm:

There is a scramble in Texas to stay warm and restore power to millions after a major winter storm hit. Several other states are also cleaning up after flooding and a tornado. 1:59

The worst U.S. power outages by far have been in Texas, where three million homes and businesses remained without power as of midday Wednesday. The state’s power grid manager, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, said electricity had been restored to 600,000 homes and businesses by Tuesday night. Officials did not know when power would be restored, but council president Bill Magness said he hoped many customers would see at least partial service restored by later Wednesday or Thursday.

Magness also defended the decision to force outages “to prevent an event that would have been even more catastrophic than the terrible events we’ve seen this week.” 

Dashawn Walker, 33, was thrilled to find the power back on in his Dallas apartment Wednesday. He stayed at a suburban hotel Tuesday night after being without power since Sunday but said he was charged $ 474 US for one night.

“It’s crazy,” Walker said. “I mean why would y’all go up on the hotels in the middle of a crisis?”

Widespread power loss

More than 200,000 additional customers were in the dark in four Appalachian states, and nearly that many in the Pacific Northwest, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks utility outage reports.

Oklahoma’s largest electric utility reported no outages Wednesday, a day after rolling blackouts in and around Oklahoma City stopped electric-powered space heaters, furnaces and lights in –8 C weather. But Oklahoma Gas & Electric warned customers of the potential for more short-term service interruptions due to the extreme cold and high demand for natural gas.


People wait in line to fill propane tanks Wednesday in Houston. Customers had to wait over an hour in the freezing rain to fill their tanks. Millions in Texas still had no power after a historic snowfall and single-digit temperatures created a surge of demand for electricity to warm up homes unaccustomed to such extreme lows, buckling the state’s power grid and causing widespread blackouts. (David J. Phillip/The Associated Press)

Nebraska also avoided another round of rolling power outages as subzero temperatures started to ease.

Entergy imposed rolling blackouts Tuesday night in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Southeast Texas at the direction of its grid manager, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, according to a statement from the New Orleans-based utility.

The Southwest Power Pool, a group of utilities covering 14 states, said the blackouts were “a last resort to preserve the reliability of the electric system as a whole.”

The weather also caused major disruptions to water systems in several southern U.S. cities, including in Shreveport, Louisiana, where city fire trucks delivered water to several hospitals, and bottled water was being brought in for patients and staff, Shreveport television station KSLA reported.

Carbon monoxide poisoning incidents

In Austin, Houston and other cities, residents were asked to stop letting water drip from pipes, a practice to prevent freezing, because of a major drop in water pressure. Houston residents also were told to boil their water — if they had power — because the pressure drop was allowing bacteria to seep into the pipes.

In the southwest Louisiana city of Lake Charles, Mayor Nic Hunter said Wednesday that water reserves remained low even after power was restored, and that local hospitals were faced with the possibility they might have to transfer patients to other areas because of low water pressure.


Ehsan M. rides a snowboard behind a friend’s SUV in a parking lot in Texas after a heavy snow on Monday. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman/The Associated Press)

Travel remains ill-advised in much of the United States, with roadways treacherous and thousands of flights cancelled. Many school systems delayed or cancelled face-to-face classes.

But even staying home can be hazardous in places without power.

Authorities said a fire that killed three young children and their grandmother in the Houston area likely was caused by the fireplace they were using to keep warm. In Oregon, authorities confirmed Tuesday that four people died in the Portland area of carbon monoxide poisoning.

At least 13 children were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth and one parent died of the toxic fumes, hospital officials said.

Fears of more snow

Stories of kindness emerged from the crisis.

In Clinton, Mississippi, Army veteran Evelyn Fletcher has been cooking and delivering meals to sidelined truck drivers, travelers and people staying at hotels after losing power at home.

“They’re stranded, they’re isolated — people are in need of support right now,” Fletcher said.


Lia Ubidia, right, and her son, Andrew Velarde, carry groceries as they walk home through the snow Monday, Feb. 15, 2021, in Houston. (David J. Phillip/The Associated Press)

On Monday, Fletcher made 85 meals. On Tuesday, she made 30 plates, while a local restaurant, T’Beaux’s Crawfish and Catering, cooked 75 plates of shrimp and gumbo that she and other volunteers delivered. And on Wednesday, Fletcher was cooking a pot of turkey noodle soup, hoping to deliver another 70 meals.

“People are worried about more snow,” she said. “We are going to keep people fed and keep them feeling hopeful.”

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CBC | World News

Several million without power in Texas as temperatures plunge as low as -20 C

A rare deep freeze in Texas that raised demand for power forced the U.S. state’s electric grid operator on Monday to impose rotating blackouts that left nearly three million customers without electricity.

The cold snap sweeping Texas reached the northern part of neighbouring Mexico as well, where authorities said 4.7 million users lost power early on Monday.  Around midday, service had been restored to almost 2.6 million of them.

The PowerOutage.us website, which tracks power outages, said 2,820,764 Texas customers were experiencing outages around 2 p.m. CT

U.S. President Joe Biden approved the state’s emergency declaration, unlocking federal assistance to tackle the rare deep freeze, where temperatures ranged from – 2 to -22 C.

WATCH | Winter storm hits Texas:

With Texas under a disaster declaration, a winter storm blanketed much of the state in snow and wind chill warnings were issued, possibly for the first time ever in some parts. 0:58

Apart from Texas, much of the United States from the Pacific Northwest through the Great Plains and into the mid-Atlantic states has been in the grip of bone-chilling weather over the weekend, featuring snow, sleet and freezing rain.

“The Texas power grid has not been compromised. The ability of some companies that generate the power has been frozen,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wrote on Twitter on Monday. “They are working to get generation back on line.”


The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) sought to cut power use in response to a winter record of 69,150 megawatts (MW) on Sunday evening, more than 3,200 MW higher than the previous winter peak in January 2018.

About 10,500 MW of customer load was shed at the highest point, enough power to serve approximately two million homes, it said, adding that extreme weather caused many generating units across fuel types to trip offline and become unavailable.

“Controlled outages will continue through today and into early tomorrow, possibly all of tomorrow,” Dan Woodfin, director of systems operations at ERCOT, said at a Monday briefing.


Heavy snow blanketed highways in Austin, Texas, Feb 15. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via The Associated Press)

The freeze also took a toll on the energy industry in Texas, by far the country’s largest crude producer, shutting oil refineries and forcing restrictions from natural gas pipeline operators.

The National Weather Service said that an Arctic air mass had spread southwards, well beyond areas accustomed to freezing weather, with winter storm warnings posted for most of the Gulf Coast region, Oklahoma and Missouri.

The storms knocked out nearly half the wind power generation capacity of Texas on Sunday.

Of the 25,000-plus megawatts of wind power capacity normally available in Texas, 12,000 megawatts was out of service on Sunday morning, an ERCOT spokesperson said.


A young girl creates a snow angel in Austin, Texas, on Monday, Feb. 15, 2021. Much of the state was experiencing snow and freezing temperatures over the Presidents Day weekend. (Bronte Wittpenn /Austin American-Statesman via The Associated Press)

The spot price of electricity on the Texas power grid spiked more than 10,000 per cent on Monday, according to data on the grid operator’s website.

Real-time market prices on the power grid operated by the ERCOT have climbed as high as $ 11,000 Cdn per megawatt hour. A typical price on the grid, which supplies most of the electricity for Texas, is less than $ 100 per megawatt hour.

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CBC | World News

How Myanmar’s generals kept their options open even as voters believed power was theirs

Myanmar’s democracy has been widely celebrated but never certain. It was a hope, of its people and of the Western world, a desire that may have been just a fragile fantasy. 

Yes, five years ago the outgoing military government seemed content to hand over much of its power. That was when Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won a landslide victory in the country’s first popular elections.

Indeed, at the time, the old government’s newspaper called for “genuine national reconciliation” and even pointed out the dangers of rule by generals. “Military might alone cannot unite people, and may even lead to war and bloodshed,” it proclaimed.

Nobody in a Myanmar military uniform is saying that now — not as soldiers round up de facto leader Suu Kyi and members of her civilian government, rejecting the results of an even bigger election victory for the NLD over the generals’ proxy parties and staging a military coup. Their justification is an allegation of “election fraud” that’s been dismissed by Myanmar’s election commission.

After declaring a state of emergency, Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and a platoon of senior officers will run the country undemocratically for the next year, just as previous military leaders ran Myanmar for 50 years before its first democratic government was elected in 2015.

But the fact is, even as civilian politicians passed laws and Suu Kyi represented the country at glittering state visits to Beijing, London and Washington, even as Myanmar was held up as an imperfect but inspiring example of peaceful transition to democracy, the generals never gave up power.


Myanmar national and military flags are waved by supporters onboard a vehicle Tuesday in Yangon, Myanmar. Hundreds of members of Myanmar’s Parliament remained confined inside their government housing a day after the military staged a coup and detained senior politicians including Nobel laureate and de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi. (Thein Zaw/The Associated Press)

The coup was their answer, says Yun Sun, a senior fellow at the Stimson Center, a non-partisan think-tank based in Washington, D.C. 

“It’s an unsettled contest,” Sun, who specializes in East Asia, said via Skype. “Although we may have seen the democratic process progressing slowly, the core issue of civilian-military relations in Myanmar has never been definitively answered.” 

Back in 2008, the generals drafted a constitution that “carved out the protections they wanted for their political privileges,” she said.

WATCH | Myanmar coup sparks international condemnation:

The military has seized power in Myanmar and detained Aung San Suu Kyi as well as other elected officials, sparking international concern for the Rohingya minority, many of whom fled past military crackdowns. 1:58

It guarantees them a quarter of the seats in parliament, the right to name key ministers of defence and of the interior, and to the ability to declare a state of emergency that effectively unravels the democratic gains — as they have now done.

Their roadmap was to what they called a “discipline-flourishing democracy,” one that dangled the carrot of a multi-party civilian system, with generals holding the stick of “discipline” if they didn’t like the results. 

If they felt the “chill” of the people’s rejection, as Sun put it, and the threat that a popular government would take away their constitutional powers.

‘If there’s any group of people on the planet that needs this less, it’s the people of Myanmar’

That was the minefield Suu Kyi tried to navigate for the past five years, striving to satisfy her supporters’ desire for freedom — and the belief they had finally won it —  while holding off the military threat. Living up to her image as an international icon of the democratic struggle, the honours of a Nobel Peace Prize and other accolades was an extra, super-human challenge.

In the end, she failed at all of this, likely tainting her role as flag-bearer for Myanmar’s democracy movement.

“The people of Myanmar have been through so much,” said Tom Andrews, the UN’s special rapporteur on Myanmar, told CBC News in a phone interview. “They’ve lived under brutal military regimes for some time. They’re gripped with this pandemic. They are battling an economy that has them on their heels. If there’s any group of people on the planet that needs this less, it’s the people of Myanmar.”

WATCH | Bob Rae calls for internationally co-ordinated response to Myanmar coup:

Bob Rae, Canada’s Ambassador to the UN, weighs in on the coup in Myanmar and calls for an internationally coordinated response: “If you have individual countries going off and doing different things, it doesn’t have any impact.” 3:47

Suu Kyi tried to reassure the generals of their influence, involving them in government decisions and justifying their actions in a scorched-earth military campaign to kill or drive the Rohingya minority out of Myanmar. 

“She clearly was not happy with being put in the public position of having to defend the army around the world,” said Bob Rae, Canada’s UN ambassador and Ottawa’s former special envoy on Myanmar. “And at the same time, not have the ability to basically control them.”

“This really is the nub of the issue between her and the military,” Rae said on the CBC’s The Current

International community may have played a role

She reportedly hasn’t had direct contact with Hliang in more than a year.

Suu Kyi’s Myanmar also disappointed North American and European leaders, who might have hoped for a Western-oriented transformation.

Betrayed by her unwillingness to defend the Rohingya and uphold human rights, they ostracised Myanmar and imposed sanctions on its military leaders.

But in so doing, the Western world seems to have driven Myanmar back into the arms of China, which was ready to finance huge infrastructure projects for dams and deep sea ports, pipelines and energy ventures. 


Rohingya refugees from Myanmar living in camps in Bangladesh, shown on Tuesday, are condemning the military coup in their homeland and saying it makes them more fearful to return. (Shafiqur Rahman/The Associated Press)

Suu Kyi may have been suspicious of Beijing’s motives, says Sun. “She was not willing to do everything the Chinese wanted her to do,” she said. 

Myanmar’s leader was trying to balance “how to benefit [Myanmar’s] economy without sacrificing the country’s security,” she said.

China may offer a lifeline

In the end, though, Myanmar had no choice in signing big deals with China and may have even fewer options now.

Despite this, China hasn’t signalled its support for the coup — simply “noting” the events and hoping that “all sides … can appropriately handle their differences.”

Beijing’s relations with Myanmar’s generals haven’t been entirely smooth and a years-old dispute over Chinese meddling in ethnic insurgencies near the border between the countries has left suspicion on both sides.

Still, with the United States and the West threatening increased sanctions against the new military government, China may well gain influence and financial leverage over Myanmar by default — an irresistible financial lifeline. 

The generals may have taken power in Myanmar, their efforts to guarantee control may have been successful for now. But it’s not clear if that victory will last.

WATCH | Protest against the coup in Yangon:

The sound of banging pots and car horns reverberated through Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city, in the first widespread protest against the military coup. 0:33

With the Western world’s hopes and efforts at democracy-building dashed, it is lining up against them.

And Myanmar itself isn’t the same country it was before this tentative transition to people power. No longer cut off from the rest of the world as it was a decade ago, citizens have watched, witnessed and absorbed democratic trends through their leaders and smart phones.

More than ever, they see themselves as voters, political participants and even activists who aren’t willing to accept the generals’ “disciplined democracy.”

At least, not without making noise, as they were in the city of Yangon last night —  with videos showing them clanging pots and blaring horns expressing their anger. 

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Sarah Fuller becomes 1st woman to score in Power 5 football game

Sarah Fuller became the first woman to score in a Power Five conference football game by kicking an extra point for Vanderbilt on Saturday.

The goalkeeper for Vanderbilt’s Southeastern Conference women’s soccer champs didn’t get a chance on the Commodores’ first two drives against in-state rival Tennessee. But the Commodores drove late in the first quarter, running for a first down on fourth-and-1.

On the next play, Ken Seals threw an 18-yard pass to Cam Johnson for a touchdown. Fuller, listed second out of three available kickers on the depth chart, came out for the extra point, which tied the game at 7 with 1:50 left in the first quarter.

The 6-foot-2 senior put the ball through the uprights and celebrated by pulling her first in before slapping high-fives with teammates. She ran off the field with a big smile with her family in the stands all with their arms up in the air.

An official gave Fuller the ball on the sideline.

WATCH | Sarah Fuller makes historic kick for Vanderbilt:

Sarah Fuller makes history by kicking an extra point in Vanderbilt’s game against Tenneseee. 1:17

Fuller made history as the first female to play in a Power Five conference game on Nov. 28 with a squib kick to open the second half. She has remained on the roster even as Vanderbilt’s other kickers came out of quarantine and rejoined the team.

No woman before Fuller had appeared in an SEC game or for any Power Five team. Liz Heaston became the first woman to score in college football with two extra points for Willamette of NAIA on Oct. 18, 1997.

Katie Hnida was the first woman to score at the Football Bowl Subdivision level with two extra points for New Mexico on Aug. 30, 2003.

April Goss was the second, with an extra point for Kent State in 2015. Tonya Butler was the first woman to kick a field goal in an NCAA game for Division II West Alabama on Sept. 13, 2003.

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2020 is the year athletes saw the evidence of their true power

This is a column by Morgan Campbell, who writes opinion for CBC Sports. For more information about CBC’s Opinion section, please see the FAQ.

No matter how many recounts lame-duck U.S. president Donald Trump finagles, he’ll never win Georgia. He’ll keep losing at the ballot box, where president-elect Joe Biden garnered 49.5 per cent of the vote, compared with 49.3 per cent for Trump. And he won’t win in the courtroom, where judges have rejected Team Trump’s legal challenges with the fervour of a prime Dikembe Mutombo.

We could attribute Biden’s margin of victory to several Georgia municipalities, densely populated blue islands in a largely red state, but let’s focus on Fulton County, which encompasses downtown Atlanta, and where locals could vote early at State Farm Arena, home of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks. According to published reports, 40,000 Georgians voted at the State Farm Arena’s COVID-safe polling site.

Fulton County is also Biden Country, where the president-elect won nearly 73 per cent of votes. If the people casting ballots at State Farm Arena fit that statistical profile, Biden likely collected roughly 29,000 votes there — in a state he won by fewer than 12,000.

Erasing those votes — the fast-receding dream of Trump and his surrogates — would likely alter the outcome and divert Georgia’s 16 electoral college votes to Trump. But those votes accrued to Biden for a variety of reasons, including people like Stacey Abrams, whose relentless, years-long registration campaign yielded a bumper crop of African-American voters.

And also NBA players, who walked off the job in August to protest the shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisc. They wouldn’t return to work until the NBA pledged to use its arenas as polling places in the November election, setting the stage for Biden to run up big numbers against Trump in downtown Atlanta during a pandemic.

Moves like that helped prompt Sports Illustrated to name The Activist-Athlete as its Sportsperson of The Year. The magazine singled out five individuals, including Kansas City Chiefs’ lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, a Super Bowl champion and a medical doctor who opted out of the 2020 season to care for COVID-19 patients in his native Montreal.

So if anyone questions whether activism among high-profile athletes can yield concrete results, we can point to the U.S. electoral map, where Biden became the first Democrat to win Georgia since Bill Clinton did it in 1992.

Or to the WNBA, where since the summer players have supported Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock in his Georgia senate race even though his opponent, Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler, co-owns the league’s Atlanta franchise. The WNBA was also the home of Maya Moore until the star forward paused her career to help free wrongfully-convicted Jonathan Irons, who is now her husband, from a Missouri prison.

WATCH | Bring It In, with Morgan Campbell:

In the pilot episode of Bring It In with Morgan Campbell, panelists Meghan McPeak and Dave Zirin discuss the history made by Sarah Fuller, debate the need for novelty events in sports and participate in a rapid game of In or Out on this week’s biggest stories. 34:24

From Kaepernick to Dumba

Or we can witness major pro leagues’ quick and warm embrace of anti-racism messages once considered too politically fraught to coexist with their on-field product.

In 2016-17, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick was essentially blackballed for sitting out the national anthem to protest police brutality and systemic racism. This past summer the NHL handed Matt Dumba a microphone so the Minnesota Wild player could make a pre-game speech reminding fans that Black Lives Matter.

What’s less clear is whether, for sports industry cheque-writers and decision-makers, the current dedication to combating anti-Blackness is a permanent feature or just a trend. We don’t know if it’ll stick around, like the NBA’s three-point line has, or vanish when reactionary zeal subsides, like the NBA’s dress code did.


Minnesota Wild’s Matt Dumba takes a knee during the national anthem flanked by Edmonton Oilers’ Darnell Nurse, right, and Chicago Blackhawks’ Malcolm Subban after making an anti-racism speech before a playoff game in Edmonton on Aug. 1. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

Leagues’ messaging rings hypocritical

Symbols of the fight against racism abound in myriad sports. The knee-taking and fist-raising before NBA games is now so widespread that it has become part of the spectacle, like the New Zealand All-Blacks performing a haka before an international match.

And we see slogans like “End Racism” stenciled into NFL end zones, or players with the names of Black victims of police shootings printed on the backs of their helmets. This season’s embrace of Black activism marks a stark departure for a league whose previous attempt at fighting racism involved hiring Jay-Z as a consultant, and promoting the self-consciously race neutral slogan “Inspire Change.”

But if you think the messaging rings hypocritical, you’re not wrong. Between positive tests and the isolation of close contacts, the COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged NFL rosters so thoroughly that the Denver Broncos had to field a practice-squad wide receiver at starting quarterback two weeks ago — yet somehow NFL teams can’t seem to find Kaepernick’s phone number.

WATCH | The year athletes en masse refused to shut up and play:

Athletes around the world raised a collective voice in an unprecedented show of power. 5:03

A comfort with racism

NFL team owners, let’s remember, overwhelmingly support Trump and other Republicans. According to OpenSecrets.org, 85 per cent of the money donated by NFL owners to political campaigns in 2020 went to Republican candidates. Even team owners in the comparatively progressive NBA tend to give more money to Republicans — 53.4 per cent of donations since 2015, according to The Ringer — than to Democrats.

Those numbers alone don’t paint team owners as personally racist, but they certainly indicate a comfort with racism, and with a political party whose leader, Trump, has a high-profile history of racist acts.

In the early 1990s he campaigned for the execution of five Black and Latino teenagers wrongfully convicted of raping a white jogger in New York City’s Central Park. This year, instead of rejecting an endorsement from a white supremacist group, The Proud Boys, Trump told them to “stand back and stand by.” And since the election Trump’s legal team has tried, unsuccessfully, to disqualify votes in places like Detroit and Atlanta, where NBA arenas served as polling places, and where a critical mass of Black residents voted overwhelmingly for Biden.

We won’t know until the next election cycle whether this past summer’s activism and this fall’s electoral result will prompt sports team owners, who proclaim in public that they’re committed to fighting racism, to recalibrate their relationship with the Republican party.

Racism built into the structure of for-profit sports won’t disappear in a week, or a season, or a year. It took until this autumn for the NFL to accept that the words “End Racism” wouldn’t trigger an exodus of longtime fans. And it’ll probably still take years before NFL teams are as comfortable hiring Black head coaches as they are drafting Black defensive backs.

This year has reminded us that phasing racism out of the sports industry, and society, isn’t an event — it’s a process, non-linear and littered with pitfalls and setbacks alongside success. So, the activism driving can take the form of big acts, or a string of small acts forming an ongoing campaign.

Either way, 2020 has taught us that athletes don’t just intend to benefit from changing the sports industry’s racist habits. Athlete-activists intend to drive that transformation.

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Absence of World’s Fastest Man will deprive Tokyo Olympics of sorely needed star power

This is a column by Morgan Campbell, who writes opinion for CBC Sports. For more information about CBC’s Opinion section, please see the FAQ.

If you’ve never seen Christian Coleman run in person I feel sorry for you as a sports fan, because the man is an absolute wonder. I watched from the bleachers as he zoomed away from a world-class field in the early rounds of the men’s 60 metres at the IAAF World Indoor Championships, and sat near the finish line as he won the final in 6.37 incredible seconds.

That time was the second best ever, trailing only the 6.34 Coleman ran at U.S. nationals that year. Those numbers quantify what you see when you watch Coleman blast from the starting blocks and rocket down the track.

He’s faster than 5G wifi. Faster than money running through your chequing account.

He’s faster than any sprinter in the post-Usain Bolt era, and that’s not just my opinion. It’s a point of statistical fact. Last September he won a 100-metre word title in 9.76 seconds, the fastest time in the world since 2015.

WATCH | Christian Coleman runs 9.76 at 2019 World Championships:

Christian Coleman of the United States wins 100m with personal best 9.76 seconds, Andre De Grasse finishes 3rd while fellow Canadian Aaron Brown places 8th. 8:37

Coleman is so fast that the sport’s drug testers can’t keep up with him, and that’s the problem.

This month the Athletics Integrity Unit, which oversees doping control for World Athletics, suspended Coleman for two years after a string of missed out-of-competition drug tests. The ruling means the top performer in track and field’s highest-profile event will miss the Olympics — if they actually happen next summer in Tokyo. Unless Coleman’s last-ditch appeal succeeds, somebody besides the current World’s Fastest Man will win Olympic gold in 2021, and his suspension will leave a long list of losers.

Stench of a doping control violation

First is Coleman’s career, even though he has never tested positive, and even though the AIU’s report specifies that officials don’t suspect him of using performance-enhancing drugs. The stench of a doping control violation will still sour his reputation, and the two-year gap on his resume could prove costly for a sprinter at his level, where appearance fees grow with each Olympic and world championship medal, and where gold in Tokyo could have earned him untold endorsement cash.

But four whereabouts violations in a 12-month span hint that Coleman either doesn’t understand, or simply doesn’t care about the importance of routine paperwork.

In that sense the World’s Fastest Man is like many of us, too busy keeping pace with daily life to sign every paper and respond to every email. I’ve been paying accountants to prepare my taxes since before I could afford it, because even student loan-poor Morgan had less time than money. So if the time drain and tedium of constantly updating his location, just to facilitate unannounced drug tests, simply overwhelmed Coleman, I get it. I empathize. I’ve been there. The world’s fastest human is still human.

But those doping control location forms are just like tax returns, in that failing to keep them up to date will cost you in the long run. If I keep CRA waiting long enough, I’ll earn an audit. If you don’t answer the door when drug testers knock, as happened with Coleman in December, or if you’re in Iowa on a day you said you’d be in Kentucky, as happened last spring, you’re courting warnings and, eventually, suspensions.

And if you’re Coleman, your absence will deprive the sport of your sorely needed star power.

De Grasse the new favourite?

In theory, a Coleman-free Tokyo Olympics elevates Markham’s Andre De Grasse to an early favourite. De Grasse, after all, won bronze at 2019 worlds, finishing behind Coleman and Justin Gatlin, who will be 39 years old next summer.

But it’s still too early to handicap a competition that’s nine months away. In 2016, hardly anyone outside Coleman’s inner circle and a handful of absolute track and field soothsayers, could have said with certainty that he would outrun Usain Bolt in the 2017 World Championship final. And as De Grasse wrapped up the 2014 season, few observers would have known that by the following summer he would shave nearly a quarter second off his 100-metre personal best, and transform from junior college sprint standout to world championship medallist.

The point here is that new contenders emerge every year, and don’t usually warn the mainstream sports world before they do it.

WATCH | The ascension of Christian Coleman, Andre De Grasse:

Despite following similar paths in their careers, Canada’s Andre De Grasse and American Christian Coleman have yet to race each other professionally in the 100 metres.. CBC Sports’ Anson Henry sets up the much-anticipated 100-metre showdown at the upcoming track and field worlds. 1:38

Still, sidelining the most recent world champion in the most-watched event of the summer Olympics hurts both the games and the sport of track and field. Coleman might not have Bolt’s effusive, yet easy-going, made-for-mainstream audiences personality, but he’s American, and that matters.

Among everyday sports fans and media in the U.S., understanding of track and field is about as broad and deep as an ashtray, which explains why several times a year football writers try to explain why NFL players are faster than Olympic sprinters. This month it’s D.K. Metcalf, the Seattle Seahawks receiver who made highlight reels with his coast-to-coast chase-down of Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker last Sunday night. Metcalf’s wearable tech measured his top speed at 22.64 m.p.h., or 10.1 metres per second if you’re fluent in sprinting.

That stat prompted one writer to calculate that Metcalf’s speed, if sustained, converts to 9.88 seconds over 100 metres, except that conclusion assumes Metcalf’s peak speed is also his average — which is impossible. A peak, by definition, isn’t sustained. That’s why it’s a peak. A true 9.88 sprinter likely maxes out north of 11.5 metres per second. Track aficionados understand that distinction, but people raised on U.S. football, and hand-timed 40-yard dashes as the gold standard of speed, often don’t.

Enter Coleman, who went viral in 2016 when he ran a 40 under NFL Combine conditions and clocked 4.12 seconds, a full tenth of a second faster than the best time ever recorded at the combine. That figure might mean little in the track and field world, but it translates Coleman’s speed into a language U.S. sports fans recognize. And so it positioned him as a bridge between a sport that gains mainstream attention for two weeks every Olympic summer, and the massive North American fan base that could make the whole enterprise more lucrative.

Instead, Coleman has a suspension he’ll have to appeal to the Court for Arbitration in Sport, hoping a win will put him on the start line next season. If he loses he’ll have to watch the Tokyo 100 metre final, probably on television or from a safe social distance, one more way the World’s Fastest Man is just like the rest of us.

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Californians see power shutoffs as winds, fire danger rise

Hundreds of thousands of Californians lost power as utilities sought to prevent the chance of their equipment sparking wildfires and the fire-weary state braced for a new bout of dry, windy weather.

More than 1 million people were expected to be in the dark Monday during what officials have said could be the strongest wind event in California this year.

It’s the fifth time this year that Pacific Gas & Electric, the nation’s largest utility, has cut power to customers in a bid to reduce the risk that downed or fouled power lines or other equipment could ignite a blaze during bone-dry weather conditions and gusty winds. On Sunday, the utility shut off power to 225,000 customers in Northern California and planned to do the same for another 136,000 customers in a total of 36 counties.

“This event is by far the largest we’ve experienced this year, the most extreme weather,” said Aaron Johnson, the utility’s vice president of wildfire safety and public engagement. “We’re trying to find ways to make the events less difficult.”

The National Weather Service issued red flag warnings for much of the state, predicting winds of up to 56 km/h in lower elevations and more than 113 km/h in mountainous areas of Southern California. The concern is that any spark could be blown into flames sweeping through tinder-dry brush and forestland.

The conditions could equal those during devastating fires in California’s wine country in 2017 and last year’s Kincade Fire, the National Weather Service said. Fire officials said PG&E transmission lines sparked that Sonoma County fire last October, which destroyed hundreds of homes and caused nearly 100,000 people to flee.


Ray Lopez delivers supplies to Mountain Mike’s Pizza in the Montclair district of Oakland, Calif., where power is turned off, on Oct. 15. Sunday’s shutdown was the fifth time this year that Pacific Gas & Electric cut power to customers in a bid to reduce the wildfire risk. (Noah Berger/The Associated Press)

Weather conditions shifted in Northern California on Sunday, with humidity dropping and winds picking up speed, said Scott Strenfel, senior meteorologist for PG&E. He said another round of winds is expected Monday night.

Southern California, which saw cooler temperatures and patchy drizzle over the weekend, is also bracing for extreme fire weather. Southern California Edison said it was considering safety outages for 71,000 customers in six counties starting Monday, with San Bernardino County potentially the most affected.

Los Angeles County urged residents to sign up for emergency notifications and prepare to evacuate, preferably arranging to stay with family or friends in less risky areas who aren’t suspected to have the coronavirus. Local fire officials boosted staffing as a precaution.

“The reality is come midnight and through Tuesday we’re going to be in the most significant red flag conditions we’ve had this year,” said Kevin McGowan, director of the county’s Office of Emergency Management.

Outages are safety measure

Scientists say climate change has made California much drier, meaning trees and other plants are more flammable. Traditionally October and November are the worst months for fires, but already this year the state has seen more than 8,600 wildfires that have scorched a record 16,576 square kilometres and destroyed about 9,200 homes, businesses and other structures. There have been 31 deaths.

Many of this year’s devastating fires were started by thousands of dry lightning strikes, but some remain under investigation for potential electrical causes. While the biggest fires in California have been fully or significantly contained, more than 5,000 firefighters remain committed to 20 blazes, including a dozen major incidents, state fire officials said.


Members of the San Bernardino County Fire Department hose down hot spots from the Bobcat Fire on Sept. 19 in Valyermo, Calif. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/The Associated Press)

PG&E officials said the planned outages are a safety measure and understood they burden residents, especially with many working from home and their children taking classes online because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sheriff Kory Honea of Butte County said he’s concerned about residents in foothill communities during the blackouts because cellular service can be spotty and it’s the only way many can stay informed when the power is out.

“It is quite a strain on them to have to go through these over and over and over again,” he said.

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