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Lathrop expects big demand for generators due to PG&E plans to cut power

The City of Lathrop is anticipating an increase in the number of applications for both permanent and portable generators that are wired into an existing residential electrical system. 

In fact, they’ve even put the application at the top of their revolving news update on the city’s website – outlining the steps necessary to earn city approval to prepare for a power outage. 

And while generator sales may be spiking in advance of the potential PG&E power outage – with entire cities along the main power distribution route to the Sierra foothills due east of Southern San Joaquin County potentially losing power for up to five days – and large retailers like Bass Pro Shops advertising the convenient additions on targeted Facebook ads, the purchase of a generator is merely the first step. 

According to Lathrop City Manager Steve Salvatore, Lathrop encourages permitting for a proper hookup that includes a transfer switch so that excess power created by the generator doesn’t go back onto the power grid – eliminating dangerous back-feeding to protect potentially damaged lines and the workers who may be tending to them under the belief that power has been safely cut off. 

The city’s standard fees for plan review and inspection are still in place for the generator permit process, and the permit application valuation is based on all labor and materials for the project in question including the generator, the automatic or manual transfer switch, and a fuel tank if applicable. Large diesel and gas-fired generators may also be subject to the regulations of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, which would require separate approval form the City of Lathrop. 

Generators are not allowed in the front yards of homes or businesses and must be stored on the side or rear yard and have at least three-feet of emergency clearance. Roof installation is applicable under the city’s existing codes, but such systems must meet all California requirements for structural design including wind and seismic loads. Screening must also be installed, and the adequacy of the roof support and equipment anchorage must be up to standard. 

Per Lathrop’s municipal code, generators must not exceed 55 decibels during the hours of 10 p.m. to 7 p.m. – the nighttime hours – and permits applications that are submitted need to include details such as a site plan, line diagram, noise decibel level, screening and or physical protection, exhaust termination location, manufacturers installation instructions, and fuel tank or natural gas line information. 

For additional information, or to obtain a copy of the generator guidelines recently published by the city’s chief building inspector, visit the City of Lathrop’s website at 

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.