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City: Portable generators do not need permits
Portable generators
Attendees at Thursday’s town hall meeting regarding how to deal with PG&E cutting the power for two to five days. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT/The Bulletin

Not too long ago, PG&E customers were notified about the possibility of the loss of electrical power occurring for up to five days during the wildfire season that can run into December. 

While the probability of that happening might be low, City of Manteca officials are hoping that folks will be prepared under this worse-case scenario.

A town hall meeting was held Thursday to provide information and answer questions on this matter at Manteca Fire Station 2.

Many asked about power generators.

“No permits are required for portable generators,” said Fire Marshal Lantz Rey, who recommended that this temporary power source be used on and appliances such as a refrigerator or freezer to preserve food.

He added that permanent generators, in particular, those wired into the electrical services, do require permits.

Meanwhile, the Manteca Senior Center is in the process of having a generator installed, according to Deputy Director of Public Works George Montross,

The Senior Center would serve as a shelter site in such emergency.

The Manteca Transit Center is being considered as a second shelter.

PG&E’s proposed emergency preparedness plan on a worse-case scenario calls for cutting transmission lines to those affected communities and areas that are along the same transmission lines.

The Central Valley, under the High Fire-Threat District Map developed by the California Public Utilities Commission, is Tier 1, making it very a low risk area.

Angels Camp and the Foothill, identified as Tier 4, as at extreme risk.

“Just because we’re in Tier 1 doesn’t mean we won’t be affected by what could happen in Tier 4. The power (sectional transmission lines) could run through our city,” said Battalion Chief Dave Marques, who noted that combination high winds and low humidity can be a recipe for such a threat.

Manteca has had a comprehensive disaster plan in place for years, he said.

Added Mayor Ben Cantu: “It’s important that we have a plan in dealing with this issue if and when it happens.”

Cell phones along with 9-1-1 emergency number are expected to be in working order. Social media and other news sources could be used to notify folks in such an emergency.

While PG&E will try to provide a 48-hour notice on the power shut-off notice, city officials, however, aren’t banking on that happening in Hour 1 of the plan.

The hospitals in Manteca are equipped with a back-up power source. The Senior Center, as earlier mentioned, would be the No. 1 shelter site.

“We have volunteer organizations in place to check on people or take them to the shelter sites,” Marques said.

In the 12th Hour of the emergency plan, all off-duty police and fire personnel would be called in, doubling the staff.

In a worse-case scenario, law enforcement from the neighboring cities could also be called in for added support.

In the 24th Hour, police could enact curfew laws to all people similar to the current ones imposed on minors between the hours of 11 p.m. through 6 a.m.

Marques, in addition, pointed out that the City of Manteca’s website will soon be updated covering all emergency situations.