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Lyft giving out free rides in wake of PG&E-California energy crisis

Shawn M. Carter

California was thrown into a frenzy as Pacific Gas & Electric, a major utility company, cut power for thousands of customers. Now, ridesharing giant Lyft wants to help.

“In response to the planned Bay Area power outages which are slated to impact hundreds of thousands of residents this week, Lyft is committed to doing our part to help those in need,” the company said in a press statement and on Twitter. “We’re activating our Wheels For All program to help those in affected areas move to designated resource centers.”

The program, first launched in January 2018 to help those in need get transportation, will provide free rides to select resource centers in California, including in Napa, Nevada and Santa Clara counties. This will “give people access to restrooms, bottled water, electronic-device charging and air-conditioned seating,” the company said.

Rides can be accessed using the code “POWERRELIEF19,” which will be valid for two rides of up to $15 each, and active until Oct. 15 at 11:59 p.m. while rides are available.

Lyft is also teaming up with public-service companies, United Way and 211 to offer free rides to people in Ventura and Oakland who meet criteria and are in need of evacuation.

The planned power outages from PG&E were a precaution to prevent electrical equipment from sparking wildfires as the West Coast experiences heavy winds, which meteorologists said could reach 30 mph and gusts could reach 45 mph or more.

In all, about 2.5 million people will be temporarily without electricity.

In some areas, like Berkeley, stores ran out of generators and classes at the university were canceled. In Santa Rosa, authorities reported traffic collisions at intersections without power. Santa Clara County declared a local state of emergency.

“A lot of things are happening — all converging at once,” Michael Jones, founder and senior energy consultant of California Energy Advisers in Los Angeles, told FOX Business. “You have a very old grid — about 127 years old — which needs constant upgrading.”

With power outages across the state, several agencies have called for common-sense safety practices, like treating unpowered streetlights as stop signs. Jones has an eye on the future: “I see a need for people to go green,” use solar panel and work to get off the grid.

“There's no way around it anymore,” he said. Aside from solar power, going green can include installing energy-efficient windows, "heating and air conditioning, cool paint, water systems — everything you can put in a house so it produces more energy than it uses.”

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For now, though, those affected by the outages can check in with PG&E for updates.

“Our hearts are with those affected by the wildfires in Southern California,” Lyft tweeted.

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