Extended Power Outages

Power outages can happen for many reasons, and being prepared is an important part of your emergency plan .  During wildfire season, Sonoma residents need to be prepared for the possibility of extended power outages related to Pacific Gas & Electric’s efforts to reduce wildfire risks (known as a Public Safety Power Shutoff or PSPS).   Visit socoemergency.org/prepare for resources to prepare yourself, your family & friends, and your neighborhood for prolonged power outages.  Sonoma County residents need to prepare for at least 5 days without electricity.

Learn more about how Sonoma residents and businesses can prepare for a PSPS, as well as the steps that the City of Sonoma has taken to be ready for a power shutoff.

When the City receives notification about potential power outages or related impacts affecting our area, information will be posted under Public Safety news or Emergency Updates.

Frequently asked questions

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is expanding its Community Wildfire Safety Program. This includes proactively turning off electric power for safety (Public Safety Power Shutoff) when extreme fire danger conditions are forecasted, to help reduce the likelihood of an ignition.  Learn more about Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) at prepareforpowerdown.com.

A combination of criteria are used by PG&E in activating a Public Safety Power Shutoff, which may include a Red Flag Warning declared by the National Weather Service, low humidity levels, forecasted sustained winds, conditions of dry fuel, and on-the-ground real-time information. The most likely electric lines to be considered for shutting off for safety will be those that pass through areas that have been designated by the CPUC as at elevated (Tier 2) or extreme (Tier 3) risk for wildfire. However, although a customer may not live or work in a high fire-threat area, their power may be shut off if their community relies upon a line that runs through an area experiencing extreme fire danger conditions. PG&E decides the location and duration of any PSPS event. During any high wind event, there may be unplanned power outages as well.

PG&E’s weather awareness page provides a 7-day PSPS potential for different zones in their service area.  Sonoma is located in Zone 3.   PG&E’s Address Look-Up Tool can help to find if your service area may be impacted by a PSPS event.  PG&E also has an online map of current outages.

Among the questions to consider in preparing for an extended power outage:

How will I receive warnings and alerts about planned power outages?  When possible, PG&E will notify customers in advance of a possible Public Safety Power Shutoff.  Register for PG&E’s Wildfire Safety Shutoff Alerts.  Links to PG&E “look-up” resources on possible/current outages can be found on our Extended Power Outages page.  Be sure to also register for emergency alerts at both SoCo Alerts and Nixle to receive notifications about other emergencies that may affect your safety.  Learn more about Sonoma County’s Emergency Alert and Warning Tools.

Have I assembled my emergency kit(s)?  Whether you decide to relocate or remain at home during an extended power outage, it is important to have collected items you’ll need. Learn more at   SoCo Emergency’s Build a Kit page.

Have I considered the possible impacts of an extended power outage on my daily needs?   Power outages may affect things you may not have considered, like communications, electric gates and garage door openers, gas pumps, and ATM machines.  If you use Electricity and Battery-Dependent Assistive Technology and Medical Devices (e.g., ventilators, apnea monitors, dialysis machines), it is especially important to plan ahead.  Learn more at the Extended Power Outages page.  Visit the SoCo Emergency Power Outage page for additional information and lists of things you can do ahead of time to get ready for the potential loss of power, if PG&E is planning to turn off your electricity within the next 48 hours, and/or if your power is already out.  

It is important to plan ahead.

  1. Update your contact information with PG&E at pge.com/mywildfirealerts or call 1-866-743-6589. If you use a medical or life support device to treat ongoing medical conditions, apply for PG&E’s Medical Baseline Program. If you qualify, you’ll receive a lower rate on your monthly energy bill and receive extra notifications in advance of a Public Safety Power Shutoff.
  2. Follow FEMA’s recommendations in its Power Outage Information Sheet
  3. Review and update the ADA National Network’s Emergency Power Planning Checklist every 6 months

During a Public Safety Power Shutoff, PG&E may open a Community Resource Center at Hanna Boys Center where devices can be charged. During an extended power outage, the City of Sonoma and Sonoma County may open a device charging center during daytime hours at the Sonoma Veteran’s Memorial Building.

Disability Services & Legal Center (DSLC) is able to provide back up batteries that last 48 hours, and other services to assist to those individuals and seniors with a disability who are on MediCal. For additional information, contact Juan Orantes at 707-636-3065 or jorantes@mydslc.org  and visit http://mydslc.org/slider/psps-battery-back-ups/ .

Learn more about ways you can prepare at Sonoma Valley Hospital’s page on Managing Health Conditions at Home During a Power Outage and on the Preparing for Extended Power Outages page of this website.

During an emergency, disruptions to electricity, internet service, or cell service can impact the ways we communicate and receive information.  Some important reminders:

  • During a prolonged power outage, the ability of public safety officials to reach you using traditional alert and warning tools may be limited.  In the City of Sonoma and the rest of Sonoma County, public safety vehicles are outfitted with Hi/Lo sirens, which offer a different sound than traditional sirens, and will be used to alert residents to evacuate. This 2-tone siren will only be used in an emergency to alert residents within specific areas of the need to evacuate. If you hear the Hi/Lo, it’s time to go.
  • Our community radio station, KSVY at 91.3 FM, is an excellent source for updates during an emergency through use of your car radio or battery-powered radio. (KSVY also has an app that can be downloaded to your phone).
  • Keep your cell phone charged by using a portable charging battery or power bank. Use of texts, rather than phone calls, reduces the drain on your battery. In an extended power outage, the City and County may open a device-charging station at the Sonoma Veterans Memorial Building, 126 1st St West, which has generator power.  In a Public Safety Power Shutoff, PG&E may also open a “community resource center” in our area for charging devices.
  • Cell service may be temporarily lost or degraded in some areas during a power outage. Most cellular carriers have backup generators or batteries to keep towers operational even when the local power grid goes down, but recent experience has shown that coverage can be spotty. If a neighbor has a different carrier than you, their cell phone may be working even when yours is not.
  • VoIP systems (phone service that requires an internet connection) typically provide only a few hours of standby service when the power goes out, and then only if they’re equipped with an in-home battery backup and only if your internet service stays operational. If you have a Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) landline phone from the phone company, you should still have phone service when you lose electricity — but if you only have cordless phones connected, those won’t work during a power outage because the unit requires electricity. Talk with your neighbors to learn who has a traditional corded landline phone. Keep a hard copy of phone numbers for your key contacts that are stored on your cell phone.
  • Most City facilities have at least some generator power and, to the extent possible, will remain open in an extended power outage during business hours to serve customers and answer questions. In an extended power outage or other emergency, the City will also attempt to provide updates in printed form using posters, notice boards, or other signage at City Hall and other locations around town.

If you have difficulty reaching 9-1-1, keep in mind these options:

If you are having a medical emergency, go to the Sonoma Valley Hospital Emergency Room, 347 Andrieux Street. The hospital has an emergency generator in the event of power outage.

If you are having a public safety emergency, go to the Police Department, 175 First Street West. The Police Department will be open during normal business hours. Outside of normal business hours, there is an accessible phone.

Go to your local firehouse to report an emergency. Sonoma Valley Fire & Rescue Authority firehouses will be open during normal business hours. Outside of normal business hours, there is an accessible phone outside that connects to dispatch.

    • Station #1 – 630 2nd St W, Sonoma, CA 95476
    • Station #2 – 877 Center St, Sonoma, CA 95476
    • Station #3 – 1 Agua Caliente Rd W, Sonoma, CA 95476
    • Station #4 – 18798 Prospect Dr, Sonoma, CA 95476
    • Station #5 – 13445 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen, CA

 

2-1-1 (or 211) is a free service that connects community members to information about a wide range of critical health and human services available in their community.  2-1-1 Sonoma County is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 2-1-1 utilizes both bilingual Call Specialists and a phone-based translation service to offer 2-1-1 information and referral in over 150 languages. 2-1-1 also provides incident specific information during times of disaster, including road closures and shelters.  TO ACCESS 2-1-1 BY PHONE: Dial 2-1-1 from a landline or cell phone in Sonoma County or by dialing our toll-free number (800-325-9604). BY TEXT: Text your zip code to 898-211. ONLINE: Search the 2-1-1 resource database online at 211sonoma.org .

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Access & Functional Needs

If you are Sonoma resident with a disability or access and functional needs (AFN), be sure to review the relevant information at SoCoEmergency.org as well as FEMA’s guide on "Preparing Makes Sense For People With Disabilities, Others with Access and Functional Needs and the Whole Community".  In addition, the Ready.gov website includes preparedness resources specific for individuals with access and functional needs.

Additional Resources include:

Sonoma Valley Hospital - Managing Health Conditions at Home During Power Outages

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -  Safety Tips to Prepare for and Cope with Power Outages.

Disability Services & Legal Center - PSPS Backup Batteries for individuals on MediCal.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - Medicare coverage in disasters and emergencies.

Generator and Backup Power

Some Sonoma residents may own or be interested in purchasing generators, portable power stations or battery technologies to prepare for loss of power.  Make sure use of a generator is appropriate, safe and realistic for where you live.  Incorrect generator use can lead to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning or dangerous electrical hazards.

The installation of devices or wiring designed to allow for a direct connection from a generator to a building’s electrical system, such as manual or automatic transfer switch, breaker interlock kit or similar device, should be installed by a qualified electrical contractor and the installation requires a permit and inspection from the City Building Department.

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