LAKE COUNTY, CA (October 18, 2019) – Beginning in the early morning hours of October 9, a Diablo Wind Event prompted the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, PG&E, to initiate a proactive power shutoff for public safety. This event, known as a “PSPS,” resulted in loss of power for 738,000 customers, spanning 35 Counties. It is estimated greater than 2 million Californians were without power for some portion of this four-day event.
With 44 helicopters deployed to check lines once winds subsided, PG&E reports power was restored for most customers within 48 hours. However, due to Lake County’s remote location, and smaller total population of affected people, some residents waited significantly longer for the lights to come back on.
Tuesday, October 22, at 11am, the Lake County Board of Supervisors will receive public comment on the effects of the PSPS.
“Every populated area of Lake County was affected by this highly unfortunate event,” relates Tina Scott, Chair of the Board of Supervisors. “Many District 4 residents reached out to me, directly, to share their stories and concerns, and I am aware my fellow Supervisors got many similar calls.”
“We all received general notice the power may periodically be shut off, to reduce the probability of wildfire, and the County shared many resources to help residents prepare,” continues Scott. “However, with many individuals and families and our County government facing severe economic hardship, it simply wasn’t possible for every household to have a generator. There were also complications for individuals and groups that could not have been fully anticipated.”
“If PSPS events are to be a new normal in California, the State and PG&E need to well understand the consequences, and the unique challenges for individuals with medical needs in our rural communities, where some may need to travel a considerable distance just to reach a PG&E Community Resource Center,” states Scott.
The PSPS also affected County operations and finances, at a time of Fiscal Crisis.
“Lake County residents are all too familiar with natural disasters, and we have always worked hard to enable reimbursement of related costs, for residents and the government alike, as facilitated by the Stafford Act and other legislation,” shares County Administrative Officer, Carol J. Huchingson. “Because a PSPS is a planned event, and not categorically a disaster, many hours of staff time and other expenses incurred by the County may never be reimbursed. This is not a norm that is acceptable.”
“We need to hear from you,” emphasizes Scott. “How were you affected by the PSPS? What did it mean for your family, your business? What were the costs? While options may be limited because this is not a qualifying disaster event, I can assure you our Board and County staff will vigorously advocate for Lake County’s needs.”