Stacey Milbern didn't lose power during the recent blackouts, but if she had, things could have gotten dicey fast.
Milbern, whose East Oakland apartment was just outside PG&E's public safety power shutoff zone, has muscular dystrophy and uses a ventilator to breathe. For her and other members of the disability community — many of whom depend on electrical devices like ventilators, CPAP machines and wheelchairs — losing power signifies much more than just an inconvenience: It can be life-threatening.
Among the nearly 1 million Northern California households and businesses that went dark during the outage that began Oct. 26 — just one of several PG&E shutoffs in October — more than 35,000 were registered medical baseline customers with health conditions requiring special energy needs, the utility said. In addition to providing discounted rates, the utility is also required by law to individually notify those customers in advance of shutoffs.
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