At Wednesday’s meeting, City staff provided an update to the City Council and the community about our efforts to prepare for the PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS). Read a brief summary and highlights of the presentation below. You can also view the PowerPoint presentation and watch a recording of the presentation (presentation starts at 1:34:30) for an overview of this important topic online.
If PG&E determines the need to de-energize major transmission lines to prevent wildfires, we need to be prepared to be without power for as many as 7 days. Northern California communities are used to stable electricity and back-up power is not the norm for our businesses, residences or some governmental agencies. The potential loss of power for an extended period of time creates new challenges and uncertainty including:
- No traffic lights or street lights (signalized intersections become 4-way stops).
- Closure of retail businesses, grocery stores, gas stations, ATMs, banks and other services that can’t operate without electricity and do not have a backup generator.
- No use of elevators, garage doors, electric gates, automatic doors, water well pumps, etc.
- Increase in calls for services for Police and Fire.
- Possible disruption of cell phone service. Cell companies state that generators will be provided to keep cell towers in service, but for a long event, there may be no phone service except for landlines.
- The potential closure of schools and daycare facilities.
The City has been working and preparing on the following measures to ensure that the City services will continue during an extended power outage and that we are ready to support our community:
- PLANS & EMERGENCY RESPONSE — Operational plans are being prepared and updated.
- Police, Fire Stations, and Public Works facilities have permanent generator support and are ready to respond.
- City water service will continue, even without electricity.
- Portable generators have been secured for City Hall and the Carnegie Building to continue key operations.
- In the event of a PSPS event affecting the City, the City will open its Emergency Operations Center to coordinate responses and communication.
- COORDINATING & PARTNERING — Collaborating with key community partners – government agencies, non-profits and businesses including:
- Sonoma County Emergency Management Department has updated emergency alerts, advocated directly with PG&E in pre-planning, and extensive direct coordination with Sonoma.
- Sonoma Valley Unified School District is preparing. It is likely that schools will be closed if there is an extended power outage.
- Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce (SVCC) organized public outreach meetings that were held in June for residents and businesses. Direct outreach to key businesses is in process. SVCC is hosting an additional event, “Building Business Resilience, Create a Plan for Emergency Preparedness” at the Chamber’s Lunch and Learn event on September 24, 11:30-1:00.
- Sonoma Valley Community Communications (KSVY 91.3) to ensure radio coverage and communication with financial support from the City for generator back-up.
- Vintage House hosted public outreach meetings and is providing hands-on outreach to senior citizen and other facilities with residents that may have access or functional needs.
- Sonoma Community Center is the City’s emergency volunteer manager and will help with volunteers as needed. Fill out an emergency volunteer application online.
- Sonoma Valley Hospital (SVH) has an emergency generator designed to keep the hospital up and running during a power outage, including a PSPS. SVH is part of the county-wide health care coalition that prepares and plans for disaster responses. The coalition has been actively developing action plans to address any planned and unplanned PG&E power shutdowns.
- Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau is preparing to assist tourists and outreach.
- Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers have provided resources and information to members to help prepare.
- Local Veterans Organizations are helping to coordinate the use of the Veterans Memorial Building as a cooling and resource center.
- COMMUNITY RESOURCE CENTERS / COOLING & POWER CENTERS (sometimes referred to as Cooling and/or Charging Centers) – PG&E has committed to providing a temporary community resource center. The City and Sonoma County have identified the Veterans Memorial Center (which has committed portable generator) as a cooling and resources center. Additional back-up options are in process as well.
- PUBLIC INFORMATION – The City has put together information for Sonoma residents and businesses to help prepare for a potential power shutoff. In addition, we have created an Extended Power Outage webpage as part of the City’s Emergency Preparedness information where you can find more resources and information about PG&E’s PSPS program and ways you can better prepare for extended power outages.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PREPARE
As our community experienced first-hand during the October 2017 fires, emergencies and natural disasters can strike at any time. Taking steps now will serve you well in the event of any kind of emergency or natural disaster that our community may face.
We encourage you to take some time to review the presentation document and watch the recording of the update to City Council, read through the PSPS resident information, and take steps to ensure the safety, security and resiliency of your loved ones and community today by signing up for emergency alerts, making an evacuation plan, and building an emergency kit.