And what a heat wave it was, unprecedented in California's history of temperature recordkeeping. Eleven 100+ degree days in a row. As many as 71 dead from the blistering heat. It was frighteningly reminiscent of living through summers in Kansas, and a telling reminder of why I don't live there any more. At least in the Midwest, most people have air conditioning (often called "life support" there) but in the Bay Area, very few places have central A/C.
So when something like this happens, there's nowhere to go, especially when the power goes out. (Doesn't matter whether you have A/C at all then). And the worst part about the whole deal was that it didn't cool off at night like it normally does, it stayed just as hot and muggy, so there wasn't any escape or recovery for people or for PG&E's inadequate step-down transformers. We went to the Tech Museum on Sunday in downtown San Jose with Miss Kitty and Ultra-Gor, and it was 109. That's just insane, not to mention unsafe.
In Kansas, it's pretty much like the heat wave we just had, plus daily thunderstorms, tornadoes and hail, only for four months rather than a week or two... generally starting in early June all the way through late September. Only in October do you get the one big honking thunderstorm that lights up the sky and wipes out the power out for two days, and then it cools down. Autumn lands on a Tuesday, before it gets fricken' cold and you have to switch the thermostat from air conditioning to heating in less than 24 hours.
And even through all of the ordeal of surviving Kansas summers, running the A/C pretty much 24/7, my power bill was like $150. For having to crank the A/C at my place for the last two weeks, my PG&E bill will likely be upwards of $350, if not more, just to not melt. And considering we pay that much, PG&E uses crappy-assed transformers that aren't rated for heat, so we have 40,000 people without power duing the heat wave. Even in places like Kansas and Texas they have decent transformers that are heat-rated, and they pay a lot less for power than we do!
(The insulation on the houses is also another factor, it's not nearly as thick and lets the heat in much easier than houses in the Midwest).
There are a great many things that are a better deal in the Bay Area than back in Kansas, but the whole power deal isn't one of them. And I wasn't exactly a big KPL fan either, but at least you generally got your money's worth. If power costs that much more for PG&E, you'd think they'd spend it on transformers that are as least a good as the ones used in the rest of the country.
So after all is said and done, we're back to our regularly scheduled weather, and I can be thankful to be back home to the weather that makes it cost so much more to live out here. I don't have to go visit Kansas this summer, the weather already came out here and visited me. ;) Maybe I'll go in Autumn, if I can guess which Tuesday it's going to fall on.