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Ripon gearing up for loss of PG&E power for 5 days

As PG&E looks at power outages ranging from two to five days as the wildfire season unfolds in the coming months, the City of Ripon is in the process of putting together a contingency plan.

Engineering Supervisor James Pease said Tuesday that part of that plan includes looking into which infrastructure facilities in town are powered by the Modesto Irrigation District and which ones by PG&E.

“This notice from PG&E came (to us) fairly recent,’” he said,” We’re doing our updates — we’ll get a plan together to present before Council.”

The Ripon City Council will meet again on Tuesday, July 9. The open session begins at 6 p.m. inside the Council Chambers, 259 N. Wilma Ave.

Residents and businesses, depending upon where they are located in Ripon, have either MID or PG&E service. MID customers aren’t expected to be impacted when PG&E de-energizes its transmission line that serves much of San Joaquin County when weather and ground conditions combine to create severe wildfire conditions.

As a result PG&E customers in Ripon could see themselves without power for up to five days. That would create problems for those relying on medical devices powered by electricity to maintain their health and stay alive. PG&E customers would also face the loss of perishable food which the for-profit utility said they will not cover.

Because of a mixture of MID and PG&E service, Ripon would not hard hit as Tracy, Manteca and Lathrop where PG&E has indicated the entire cities could be without power for five days forcing stores and business to close and making it impossible to pump gas.

Ripon, Manteca and Escalon have been looking to supplant PG&E as the local electric utility provider with that of the South San Joaquin Irrigation District since 2004.

SSJID, with support from the neighboring communities, received the go-ahead by the San Joaquin County Local Agency Formation Commission to provide such services in 2014 — SJCLAFCo’s approval back then consisted of an endorsement of the financial feasibility of SSJID’s retail electric project, certification of a project specific (California Environmental Quality Act of 1970) document, and economic protections for customers and the local economy upon transitioning services from PG&E to SSJID.

All this was noted in a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsome approved by Council at the June 11 meeting in which Ripon joined Manteca and Escalon in supporting SSJID’s retail electric project.

PG&E, meanwhile, is preparing for power to be cut to some cities for up to five days.

“We’ve received some calls on this,” Pease said.

The PG&E plan also includes the Bay Area, the Foothills, Sacramento area as well as some of the Northern counties.

“If extreme fire danger conditions threaten a portion of the electric system serving your community, it will be necessary for us to turn off electricity in the interest of public safety,” said PG&E in its letter.