Many Coastsiders found themselves in the dark for extended periods as PG&E preemptively cut power to thousands of customers on two occasions in October. The few businesses that managed to keep their lights on became a needed haven for the community.
When Cameron Palmer, owner of Cameron’s Pub and Restaurant, first heard there was going to be a power shut-off scheduled for Oct. 9, he sent an employee to pick up a generator.
“It was taking too long to secure one in the area, so I sent someone down to Paso Robles,” Palmer said.
With a backup power source hooked up to the restaurant, Palmer was able to stay open for the duration of both planned shut-offs.
“We had cold beer and hot food,” he said. “We were able to be an emergency hub for everyone who did not have power.”
For both power shut-offs on the Coastside, Palmer kept his restaurant open and assisted customers by offering charge stations and available freezer space for people needing to save perishable food.
Palmer said that he has since purchased his own generator so he no longer needs to rent one in the event there is another shut-off.
“If this continues, any restaurant owner that is progressive is going to want to hook up a generator,” he said.
Fernando Coasta, manager of Hassett Ace Hardware, was able to keep up with the demand from residents who needed supplies such as flashlights, batteries or generators.
“We were open as normal. The community needed us, so we made sure we were stocked up on things,” Coasta said.
He estimates he sold about 100 generators last month to customers looking for a back-up power supply. However, while he sold a lot of inventory, there is a small margin, he said. So the increase of sales did not directly result in more revenue.
Coasta said he is also looking to sell a solar backup power source as an alternative to a generator.
“We will always try our best, no matter what happens, to be open for our customers,” he said.
Not all businesses were struggling to find immediate backup power sources within a short notice.
Durate’s Tavern in Pescadero already had a generator installed several years ago and continued to stay open during the outages with no disruption.
“We were fairly lucky,” said owner Tim Duarte. “As long as the generator is working, it allows us to operate.”
He said during the shut-offs he had a steady flow of customers. “It was pretty busy,” he said.
Residents on the Coastside also found ways to adapt by utilizing solar panels,
keeping foods cold in the refrigerator and freezer with blocks of ice, and relying on gas-operated appliances. Others took the opportunity to learn what to have on hand to better prepare for the next outage.
“I just decided that since there was no way to know how long the outage was going to last, I would simply start new routines to meet my needs,” said Half Moon Bay resident Margaret-Ann Clemente. “Time seemed to slow down. And I was able to just start to get into a new groove of existence.”