Sonoma Businesses: Are you prepared for a Public Safety Power Shutoff?

Posted on September 3, 2019


Sonoma Businesses: Are you ready for a Public Safety Power Shutoff?If you own or manage a business in Sonoma, it’s important to be prepared for PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) program to proactively turn off the power for safety during periods of extreme wildfire danger.

The City of Sonoma is sharing information to help community members plan for the potential impacts of an extended power outage, and to be as safe and as self-reliant as possible. Businesses may face special challenges related to business continuity, supplies, fuel, banking, and customer communications.  Your employees are likely to be facing their own challenges related to transportation, school closures, and care of family members.

Ultimately, PG&E decides the location and duration of any PSPS event. Due to the location of transmission lines supplying power to Sonoma County, it is possible that a PSPS event could affect large areas of the region at once, including the City of Sonoma and the Sonoma Valley.  As a community and as individuals, we need to prepare for the effects of a potentially widespread power outage that could span multiple days.  PG&E may shut off power before and during a time of extreme wildfire danger and it may take several additional days following the weather event for lines to be inspected so that power may be restored. To learn more about the PSPS program (in English or Spanish), go to prepareforpowerdown.com or download this PG&E PSPS program summary.

PG&E has stated they will attempt to notify customers of a potential PSPS event 48 hours in advance if possible, but notification could be as little as a few hours in advance. To be certain that you receive notifications from PG&E, visit pge.com/mywildfirealerts or call 1-866-743-6589 and update your business contact information. Additionally, be sure you are signed up for alerts through SoCoAlerts and Nixle; links can be found at socoemergency.org and at sonomacity.org.  PG&E has developed a 7-day forecast tool to help provide an outlook for the potential of a PSPS event.

We know that any extended outage will be difficult for our local businesses.  Planning in advance for the challenges your business will face in the event of a PSPS will help in getting through the outage with as little pain as possible.  In your planning, consider the steps your business will take in the pre-outage notification phase, outage phase, and after power restoration.   SCORE has compiled online resources and tools and the Sonoma County Economic Development Board (EDB) has created a PSPS Preparedness and Recovery Guide specific to businesses. The EDB’s guide includes a variety of business financing and incentive resources to help your business prepare and recover and a checklist to help navigate you through the different stages of a potential de-energization.

If your business is considering the use of alternative power sources, be aware of important safety issues:

  • If considering the use of a generator, be sure to review the appropriate safety materials. Incorrect generator use can lead to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
  • The installation of devices or wiring designed to allow for a direct connection from a generator to a building’s electrical system should be installed by a qualified electrical contractor and the installation requires a permit and inspection from the City Building DepartmentImproper installation can lead to dangerous electrical hazards.

The City of Sonoma, Sonoma County Office of Emergency Management, Sonoma Police Department / Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, and Sonoma Valley Fire & Rescue Authority are all working together to ensure that essential local government services will continue without interruption during a PSPS.

The City is also working with our local community radio station as well as with our local non-profit and business organization partners to supplement our communications with the public before and during extended power outages. If you have updates for the public about your business during a PSPS (e.g. changes in hours, limits on products or services, ability to accept credit cards), please provide them to the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce and/or the Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau, or the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance.

We’ll do our best to keep you informed of local impacts and resources during a PSPS, including any locations where community members can go to charge electronic devices or just to cool off.

City Website www.sonomacity.org
County Emergency and Preparedness Website www.socoemergency.org
Sonoma Valley Fire & Rescue Authority www.svfra.org
City E-Newsletters www.sonomacity.org/subscribe
City Social Media

www.facebook.com/CityOfSonoma

www.instagram.com/sonomacity

www.nextdoor.com (City posts on NextDoor show only to subscribers within City; but County emergency management posts show to entire area)

YouTube channel

Community Radio and TV KSVY 91.3 FM
SVTV Channel 27

Power outages can happen for many reasons. Taking steps now will serve your business well in the event of any kind of emergency or natural disaster that our community may face.  For more information, please visit sonomacity.org/extended-power-outages and sonomacity.org/disaster-ready

ADDITIONAL PREPAREDNESS RESOURCES – In addition to the references above, we have compiled additional available resources to help you better prepare for an extended power outage.

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