As we slide into October from a relatively calm summer in terms of wildfires, we appear to have dodged the proverbial bullet, at least for this year. The forecast for October looks encouraging, relative to the factors we have feared in the past; heat, lack of humidity and wind. Speaking of wind, we were left dangling like a two dollar wind chime in a hurricane with the recent warnings of potential blackouts.

Lake County, as well as, many other counties in Northern California, were warned last week of the potential for blackouts. So here we sat waiting and wondering if O Dark Thirty will be upon us. Restaurants are scrambling for ice, grocery stores and retailers with perishables are either besides themselves in frustration or throwing their hands up in despair. Let’s not forget our beleaguered peace officers who are now on a state of alert for something that may or may not happen. Thankfully our county was spared but others throughout the state were not so lucky.

We are told to get used to it as this will be an ongoing exercise in frustration moving forward in the years to come. Businesses are forced to buy generators to protect their investment, “just in case”. We have been told that the potential for blackouts during the heat of the summer will be the “New Normal”, but there is nothing normal about this. It sounds like what my mother use to tell me when I asked why I couldn’t spend the night at my buddy’s house, “Because I said so!”. Perhaps we should call it settling. Instead of finding a way to fix that which is broke, we call it the new normal and tell everyone to live with it.

How different would our society be if President Franklin Roosevelt dismissed the lines of people waiting for food during the depression as the new normal? There use to be accountability and solutions and now, it seems that some would rather kick the can down the street for others to deal with than find a solution that serves the majority.

The obvious villain in all of this is PG&E and they have more problems and holes to fill than the San Francisco Giants pitching staff, so I don’t need to pile onto that mess. Their day of reckoning is heading down the tracks, but where is our government in this debacle? The California Public Utilities Commission is the regulatory agency that is supposed to watch over utilities and protect the citizens of the state of California. The CPUC regulates services and utilities, protects consumers, safeguards the environment, and assures Californians’ access to safe and reliable utility infrastructure and services. How’s that working out for us?

Obviously, their responsibilities are more involved than what is stated in a single sentence but why the talk of a new normal and no mention of a future solution? Issues like rolling blackouts need to stay at the top of our minds and not be explained away as the new normal. Settling is not the answer, it’s up to us to hold our elected officials accountable and to keep us informed of their plan to fix the problem.

Thank you for indulging me in my rambling. I’m heading home to inform my wife that moving forward, I’ll be vacationing annually by myself on the Las Vegas strip. It’s going to be the “New Normal”.

Wish me luck!

Joe Casteel

2019 President, Lake County Chamber of Commerce
Owner, North Bay Merchant Services

Joe Casteel is a 20 year veteran of the Electronic Payment industry and moved his business to Lake County in 2006. A proud member of the Lake County Chamber of Commerce and current President, Joe and his wife Jacie have called Lake County their home since 2001.