PG&E "Public Safety Power Shut-off" Program
This page is periodically updated with relevant news or links for the PSPS programs in California starting in 2018. Bookmark this page and subscribe to our Really Ready! Newsletter to stay up-to-date on PG&E's Public Safety Power Shut-off Program. Last updated 11/04/19
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PG&E sign up for alerts here (account information needed).
SoCal Edison sign up for alerts here (account information needed).
SDG&E sign up for alerts here (account information needed).
LADWP sign up for alerts here (account information needed).
Quick link to our webpage for more resources on "Utility Failure"
AFLs RELATED TO THE PSPS PROGRAM
CAHF DOCUMENTS RELATED TO PSPS PROGRAM
Savings lives and money – Microgrid technologies can do both
September 27th, 2019. By Jason Belden, DPP Manager.
In California, there is this “new normal” of extended periods of extreme heat, fierce winds, and tinder-dry wildlands. The wildfire season, once only 60 or 70 days in the 1970s, now extends for over six months of the year. The two largest and two most destructive wildfires in state history have raged in just the last two years.
Among the responses of the state’s large electrical utilities has been the Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) program, during which transmission lines that run through high fire-risk areas will be intentionally shut down to prevent the possibility of sparking another catastrophic fire.
Southern California Edison stated that customers should be prepared to be without power for an extended period, when advising about the prospects for these power shut-offs. San Diego Gas & Electric revealed that power would remain out as long as the threat to their system and public safety remains. The state’s largest utility company PG&E, advised stocking up on a week’s worth of supplies.
Are these our only options for mitigating wildfires? What if utility companies generated electricity closer to the communities that they serve? Instead of transmission lines stretching for hundreds of miles through extremely rugged mountainous terrain, is it possible to generate power closer to our long-term care facilities?
The short answer is yes. A growing movement of healthcare providers across the state are looking closer at alternative or renewable energy sources. Most people have heard of solar power as an alternate way to provide electricity to the building, but there are new approaches to generating power for multiple buildings in the form of microgrids.
Microgrids are comprised of a small network of electricity users with a local source of supply, which is attached to the larger grid. That local source of supply can be solar power, battery power, solid oxide fuel cells, etc. Microgrids, combined with energy storage, have the capacity to provide a clean uninterrupted power supply that can go off the local utility company’s grid for days, even weeks at a time.
Many folks read this and think sounds great, but what about OSHPD? The good news is that OSHPD has already overseen complex microgrid projects on acute hospital campuses with minimal time delays. Two California hospitals have already installed microgrids for their campuses with great success.
If you are concerned about how to ensure power supply at your facility during these utility shut-offs, then these systems are worth considering. The up-front cost is minimal and it can be scaled up or down to virtually any size of building. This flexibility and customization to our long-term care facilities makes the idea of building your own microgrid at your facility a viable option. If you would like to know whether California’s “new normal” of extreme, prolonged wildfire hazard could personally affect your facility or your family, check the website of your electricity provider at the links provided.
For more information about microgrids and their applicability to our buildings, please contact Jason Belden, CAHF’s Disaster Preparedness Program Manager.
Power outages - New protocols for preventing wildfires
October 18th, 2018. By Jason Belden, DPP Manager.
The recent decision by Pacific Gas and Electric to shut off electric power to large swaths of California presents new challenges for skilled nursing operators. For those in Los Angeles, Southern California Edison plans to implement a similar arrangement soon. In order to protect the life safety of your residents, every provider in California needs to start planning for these disruptions now.
The decision to shut off power in such a large geographic area is not unprecedented. If you live or work in San Diego County, you may have already experienced something similar last year during the Lilac Fire, when San Diego Gas and Electric shut off power to prevent further wildfires. In an effort to reduce their own liability risk this season, PG&E has based their plan on SDG&E’s actions from last year. Preemptively shutting off power is the first step in PG&E’s plan to reduce some of the risks that could lead to large wildfires like those seen in Santa Rosa in 2017.
While we do not have every detail of PG&E’s plan, what we know so far is not encouraging. For starters, PG&E is planning for power outages to be a permanent part of their fire mitigation strategy. That means multiple proactive blackouts every year for durations of a few hours all the way up to five days. Ask yourself - what would your facility do if it lost power, especially if it may be a few days before power is restored? Could you stay in your building? What would prompt you to proceed with evacuation? Where will your residents go? Who is going to assist you with the evacuation? Who is going to pay for the cost of transportation? If you have sub-acute patients, how early must you evacuate them?
PG&E’s footprint encompasses about 70 percent of California, with large portions in “high fire danger” areas. PG&E has identified at least 500,000 homes and businesses in the impacted area; this means hundreds of thousands of customers in these “high fire danger” areas will be out of power for an undetermined amount of time. PG&E went to great lengths to discuss how they have hired meteorologists, foresters, fire fighters, and engineers to help shape their decision to shut off and restore power. However, the first preemptive shut-off has not been promising.
Over the weekend of Oct. 14, without warning, PG&E shut off electricity preemptively under this new policy, affecting LTC providers in Lake, Napa, and El Dorado Counties. These providers remained without power for more than 24 hours. With each “Public Safety Power Shut-off” event, the circumstances will be different, but the duration of these power shut-offs will be anywhere from a few hours to five days. Notification of the activation of their “Public Safety Power Shut-off” policy will start as early as 48 hours in advance of the shut-offs. It is critical that each facility in the PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E footprint sign up for these alerts. This will be your only warning from them.
For more questions, contact CAHF Disaster Preparedness Program Manager, Jason Belden, at firstname.lastname@example.org.