It was with great interest that I read the letter from Karen Klees in the Jan. 15 edition of the Kenmore Reporter. It really resonated because I moved to Kenmore just a little over a year ago and in that short period of time, have experienced at least three power outages, one of which lasted 19 hours and another of which lasted 29 hours.
During those two longer outages, I had to throw out food items from the refrigerator, including new jars of mayonnaise, fresh poultry, salad mixes and dairy products, and from the freezer, poultry, meat, vegetables, homemade soup, prepared meals and even my dog’s frozen bones. The wastage really bothered me, both from an economic standpoint and because of the waste. I thought about single parents with one or more children, and what those outages did to their food budgets. And in Kenmore, since we do not have compost, it all went into the garbage. I imagine hundreds of thousands of dollars of food was thrown out by residents affected by those outages. I was reluctant to even restock because during the 29 hour outage, I was throwing out some items that I had restocked after the 19 hour outage. So I have spent money on groceries after throwing out food on more than one occasion. I have spent money to buy a stand-alone battery charger so I can keep my cell phone charged up and of course I have on hand, food items that can be eaten without reheating, batteries, lanterns, flashlights, presto logs, etc. Each time I hear the weather forecasters mention “wind headed our way,” I shudder in fear because power outages are so frequent in Kenmore.
During those outages, there is no one to speak to at Puget Sound Energy, just a recording with a vague message about the outage. Yes, you can download “MyPSE” app, so you can look at their map to see where the outages are and occasionally some information on their best guess as to when power will be restored provided that you keep your cell phone charged. During the longer outages, a friend drove around to see if she could spot any PSE trucks working on anything – nope.
Since I rent in a condo complex, I have no control over “doing my part” to prevent an outage nor can I install a generator. Yes, there are forces of nature, but prior to moving to Kenmore, I was a Seattle resident for over 40 years, in several different neighborhoods from one end of the city limits to the other. In all those years, I recall only a handful of power outages, maybe four or five, and never in all those years did I have to throw out food because the power was restored before that became a necessity.
Ms. Klees brought up the issue of reimbursing for all the minutes we are without power. PSE has some nonsensical message on their phones telling you that if you are without power for an unbelievably long period of time, you can receive a credit of (I think) $50. By the time one went without power for the amount of time that is quoted by PSE, you would have moved to another township where power might be more of a sure thing. I have not lived here long enough to know all the ins and outs of Puget Sound Energy, but Ms. Klees has, and I gather from her letter that PSE charges more and more and provides less and less. I know that even with watching my electric use, my bills this winter are higher than they were last winter. Down the road from where I live, there are a lot of trees growing on and over the power lines, but I have never seen a PSE truck out here.
Since I have not lived in Kenmore that long, I am not informed as to what “my part” is that I should be doing more of. But I thank Ms. Klees for speaking out and look forward to seeing what kind of response, if any, the city of Kenmore and PSE make.
Pamela Clerico, Kenmore