Watch CBS News

Portable Generators Fly Off Bay Area Store Shelves With Continuing Threat of Rolling Blackouts

PLEASANTON (KPIX) -- This weekend's flex alert raised the specter of more rolling blackouts. Next week's elevated fire danger has prompted a power shutoff watch. For anyone thinking about going out and grabbing a generator, don't expect to find one at your neighborhood hardware store.

"So we can order them," says Keith Gilbert of Ace Hardware in Alamo. "We can order generators that they do have in stock. Again, there's so many being purchased that the manufacturers can't keep up with demand. The demand is just overwhelming the supply."

Gilbert was hustling this Saturday, trying to meet the surge in demand. He says the heat, COVID-19, fires and power shutoffs have made this business more of a survival outfitter.

"If you think about it, we've had huge fires the past four years now," Gilbert says of his store's evolving role. "It's 'how are you going to protect yourself?' Last year it was a lot of Yetis or heavy-duty coolers being sold because that was it, it just hit fast, right? This year, it's everything."

This weekend, with limited options to get out of the house and the threat of no power, the crowds have returned.

"There's reasons to have this stuff because, if you can't cook because the power is out, at least you can cook outside," Gilbert said. "Or you have your staycation or you have your family that's coming over and you've got to do something. Everyone's living in their backyard right now."

So to anyone looking for a generator, better call ahead.

"It's not just generators," Gilbert laughed. "And it's not just in our area. It's across the country. The manufacturers are out of product."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.