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Ripon looks at PG&E program, staff’s draft operations plan
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RIPON — The City of Ripon is powered mostly by PG&E.

The Modesto Irrigation District, however, is also part of the infrastructure.

In the City’s Draft Operations Plan, Engineering Supervisor James Pease indicated that MID operates on “a secondary mini grid” — more on that.

This was in reference to the proposed emergency preparedness plan on a worse-case scenario, responding in the event of PG&E cutting transmission lines to Ripon and the other surrounding communities.

“The Central Valley is Tier 1, making it very a low-risk area,” said PG&E public affairs representative Dylan George on the High Fire-Threat District Map developed by the California Public Utilities Commission, which worked with Cal Fire and other utility and public safety experts.

The map identifies areas across the state with the highest likelihood of a wildfire impacting people and property.

Tier 3 areas are at extreme risk — Sonora and Angels Camp are Tier 3, George said — and Tier 2 are at elevated risk, according to the map.

This info was included in George’s overview of the recently implemented Community Wildlife Safety Program.

He indicated that the program has three pillars consisting of real-time monitoring, new enhanced safety measures, and tree trimming/tree removal that poses a higher potential for wildfire risk.

PG&E plans to add about 1,300 weather stations within the next three years to provide improved awareness of fire danger conditions. The data would be streamed in real time and made available at MesoWest.

New high-definition cameras would also be installed during that time frame — approximately 600 in high fire-risk areas that could be viewed via ALERTWildfire.

Wildfire Safety Operations Center would monitor conditions 24/7 during wildfire season, in turn, coordinating prevention and response efforts.

In the event of shutdown of power, George said PG&E customers would receive a 48-hour notice. “Calaveras to date had three days shutdown,” he noted.

The City’s plan, meanwhile, could include the purchase or lease of power generators for such emergencies.

Thanks to MID, places such as City Hall and the police station would be “in good shape” sans PG&E, Pease said.

The water system, both elevated and ground wells, operate on both MID and PG&E. “Two of our wells would be non-operational (without PG&E),” said Pease, adding that in such case a portable generator could power one additional well.

The City Corporation Yard and the Ripon Senior Center run strictly on the PG&E grid, according to Pease.

“Seventy percent of our lights are powered by PG&E,” he added.

The estimated cost for portable generators is $218,000 ($150,000 of that would be for Well 18).

Council will continue to look at this plan.