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Ripon looks at generators to deal with loss of PG&E
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PG&E recently notified customers in Ripon and the surrounding areas of the new Wildfire Safety Program in which the loss of electrical power may occur for up to five days during the wildfire season that last year stretched into December.

For the City of Ripon, the for-profit energy firm provides electrical services to 60 percent of the community while the Modesto Irrigation District powers up the other portion.

At today’s special 3 p.m. meeting at the City Hall’s Council Chambers, elected leaders will look at purchasing or leasing options on portable generators while switching over to MID power at certain locations during the fire season in an effort to continue providing essential services in such an emergency.

This is all part of the draft operations plan that Engineering Supervisor James Pease revealed at last week’s Council meeting.

Staff evaluated all City facilities for the plan, including those powered by MID.

“MID does not anticipate the PG&E shutoff will affect their electrical customers since the power generation for each provider operates independently of one another,” Pease said in his report.

Police services, he pointed out, would remain fully operational since the Ripon Police Department is powered by MID coupled with a backup generator.

Police cars will also continue to operate with no problem in this worse-case scenario with the Doak Boulevard fueling station being powered by MID.

City Hall (administration building) is powered by MID but without a backup power source – staff would recommend renting a portable generator upon receiving a shutoff notice from PG&E.

The Ripon Community Center is powered by MID and could continue being used for scheduled rental events or serve as cooling center in case of emergency or the facility if not being rented.

Garbage service would continue uninterrupted given the trucks operate on compressed natural gas and the fueling station, as mentioned, is powered by MID – the City also has backup garbage trucks fueled by diesel.

Pease said that the water system, which uses potable water, consists of several underground wells located throughout the City and two elevated towers. Half the wells are powered by PG&E and other by MID.

“With the current configuration and existing generators in place, the City can continue to provide water to residents although at much lower pressure,” he added. “In order to provide reliability within the water distribution system, staff, as a whole, recommends purchasing a large portable generator to supply water for one of the PG&E-powered wells.”

As for streets and traffic signals, Pease indicated that 70 percent of the street lights are powered by PG&E and would be out of service in the event of a power shutoff. Staff is recommending, in this case, signals in the red flash mode and installing portable stop signs with red flashers at each of the signalized intersection.

Meanwhile, the cost of purchasing generators for Well 18 or Well 7 ($150,000), the sewer Lift Stations at both Parallel Avenue and Oak Avenue ($55,000), Modify 3 electrical panel to allow for plug-in ($15,000), fueling station ($6,500) and Corporate Yard ($6,500) would be about $233,000 and paid via various sources including Water Enterprise Capital Fund and the Sewer Enterprise Capital Fund.

The other option is rental.

The annual cost here for a portable generator portable generator at Well 18 or Well 7 would be between $23,000 to $30,000 while the portable generator for Parallel Avenue and Oak Avenue for the Lift Stations is estimated between $9,000 to $12,000.

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