PG&E power shutoffs affect customers both big and small

CHICO — New regulations from the California Public Utilities Commission have authorized energy companies like PG&E to turn off power to avoid or reduce the risk of wildfires, which is inconvenient enough for residential customers, but for commercial customers — like other utility companies — it could mean huge losses in business and potential financial repercussions for their customers.

The California Water Service is already preparing to take that hit this summer.

According to a spokeswoman with the water company, a total of 25 generator projects have been completed or are currently in progress across the state.

“Currently, 12 have been installed and 13 are estimated to complete this year,” said the spokeswoman, Nicole Vaden. “From those, up north has 18, central (California) has three, and south(ern California) has four generator projects.”

“If you live anywhere in PG&E’s service territory your electricity could be shut off for longer than 48 hours as part of a Public Safety Power Shutoff,” states a new message on the power company’s website.

“If there’s a typical power outage, the water keeps flowing,” said CalWater communication affairs specialist Kevin McCusker. But these shutoffs are not your typical blackout or brownout — they will last much, much longer; possibly even days long.

“Water service is a power-intensive business,” McCusker said. CalWater uses electrical power from PG&E to power its booster pumps, wells, and even their treatment plants for both surface water and groundwater.

PG&E warned that customers in high fire-threat areas are more likely to be affected and a shutoff “could impact any of the more than 5 million customers who receive electric service from PG&E,” according to the company’s website.

A release on CalWater’s website explains the issues that will create for their business:“This safety precaution could impact a water utility’s ability to provide water service to its customers, as water systems rely on power to supply water to their customers.”

Cal Water employee Armando Martinez performs a monthly diagnostic done on each of the company’s generators to check for proper function and for regulatory requirements from the California Air Resources Board. (Kevin McCusker — Contributed)

McCusker said the company is staying in close contact with PG&E and working on getting advance notice of the planned power shutoffs so that they can best prepare to use the generators if necessary.

CalWater has issued tips and advice for their customers, available on their website at, including:

Store at least one gallon of water per day for each person and each pet, and consider storing more if you live in a hot place or live with pregnant women or people who are sick. “Ideally,” the release said, “it’s best to have at least a three-day supply of water for each person and pet.”
Purchase commercially bottled water and keep it sealed. Replace if it’s past its “use-by” date.
Purchase a food-grade water storage container.
Store your water in a cool, dry place.
Empty large, plastic soft-drink bottles (not milk or juice containers, because they may promote bacterial growth), clean and sanitize them with household chlorine bleach, rinse thoroughly and fill …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle


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