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Lathrop adds generator in case PG&E shuts off power during wildfires
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It’s still too early to know if PG&E will impose a public safety power shutoff this summer to eliminate the possibility of a destructive wildfire.

But if they do, the City of Lathrop will be ready – and there will not be any interruptions to the city’s communications capabilities during the crisis.

Last week the Lathrop City Council approved the creation of a capital improvement project to purchase a 250 KW EPA-certified diesel generator that will be installed at Lathrop City Hall to protect the city’s vital communication infrastructure in case of a utility-mandated outage that could affect Lathrop residents.

The $54,296 project is being funded through a grant from The Community Power Resiliency Submission Panel – which is operated by the San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services – and was funded by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services last year.

Lathrop’s proposal to the county beat out other submissions requesting funding.

While Lathrop had made contingency plans in 2019 when the public safety power shutoff program was expanded widely to include wide swaths of Northern California, it did not have a permanently-installed generator to provide backup power in the event of a long-lasting power outage – which, without a temporary generator in place, could have interrupted critical communications throughout the community including those used by Lathrop Police Services.

The grant requires no matching funds in order to receive the full amount of funding.

When Northern California’s largest utility announced that they would potentially be expanding the power shutoffs – which have long been utilized in the fire-prone areas of Southern California where the Santa Ana winds create destructive conditions – Lathrop began emergency planning to include cooling centers and deliveries of ice.

Because PG&E did not have to turn off transmission lines that impact this area, most of San Joaquin County made it through 2019 and 2020 without being impacted by the outages – which are called for when “red flag warnings” are issued.

The warnings alert the public to conditions that feature low humidity, high temperatures, and high winds – the perfect combination for destructive and fast-moving fires like the ones that destroyed Paradise and burned portions of Santa Rosa over the last several years.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.