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Lathrop officials gear up planned multi-day PG&E power outages

While a multi-day power outage caused by PG&E cutting off the line that serves Lathrop to minimize fire danger in vulnerable foothill communities isn’t expected until the fall, work is already underway to make sure that the city is protected in the event that the lights go off. 

The Northern California power giant announced last month that as part of its plan to prevent the kind of widespread forest fires that destroyed the community of Paradise last year they may de-energize the transmission lines that serve those communities during periods of high winds and dry conditions. Because of the location of cities like Manteca and Lathrop in relation to where those transmission lines are laid out on PG&E’s system, the populated areas could go dark for up to five days and no less than two if the decision is made to cut off power. 

According to the City of Lathrop, discussions between the city, Lathrop Police Services and the Lathrop Manteca Fire District are already underway to ensure that plans are in place to maintain the delivery of essential services. The specifics of the plan are still being worked out, and additional information is expected to be made available to residents within the next month.

As a way to prepare the public in advance of what is expected to be another busy California fire season, the city has prepared a number of tips for residents to keep them safe in the event of a natural disaster – including tips about how to protect oneself during a power outage. The tip sheet, which is posted on the city’s website, includes links to federal and state emergency management documents. It can be found by visiting the City of Lathrop’s website at and clicking on the link in the news section on the main page.

According to Lathrop Manteca Fire Chief Gene Neely, the city has long had an incident management team in place to handle issues as they arise, and the pending power outages are no exception – the city has already been in discussions with both Lathrop Police and the fire district, Neely said, and those talks will continue as the critical period draws nearer. 

“Since Lathrop is a very progressive and young city, the infrastructure that has been put in place has always had the foresight of risk management,” Neely said. “All the lift and pump stations have backup generators and the ones that don’t are on gravity feed. 

“The fact is that the city is ready to provide the four essential services that are needed to survive a PG&E shutdown – water, sewer, police and fire.”

Neely said that because of the way that Lathrop’s system is laid out, maintaining cooling stations won’t be an issue for the city – Lathrop City Hall, the city’s corporation yard (where the backup systems are located), and Lathrop Fire Station 35 are all places that may be used as cooling centers when an outage occurs. 

All residents are recommended to sign-up for wireless emergency alerts on their cell phone so that they are eligible to receive geographically-specific messages that are sent out by emergency officials when information needs to be distributed. Because a loss of power would likely prevent television from being a medium, residents are also encouraged to remember the primary and secondary emergency alert system radio stations that serve our area – KFBK radio in Sacramento that is broadcasting on 1530 AM and 92.5 FM, and KSTN radio in Stockton broadcasting on 107.3 FM. The previous station, 1420 AM, has been discontinued. 

Residents will also have the chance to get updates directly from the company next month when representatives from PG&E address the issue at the meeting of the Lathrop City Council. That meeting, which is scheduled for Monday, July 8, will take place at Lathrop City Hall – located at 390 Towne Centre Drive – at 7 p.m. 

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.