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Ripon split city when it comes to PG&E power cut off plans

Roughly a third of Ripon will escape PG&E’s plans to cut off electricity to their homes and businesses when the utility implement their plan to de-energize their main transmission line cutting through the South County when severe wildfire conditions — high winds, low humidity, and dry vegetation — exist in the Sierra foothills.

That’s because they are served by Modesto Irrigation District that also charges them less for electricity as well.

The response to PG&E’s decree that they will de-energize all electrical power to Manteca, parts of Ripon, and other nearby communities triggered sharp reactions from ratepayers and local officials as well as a  lot of questions.

 Manteca Mayor Ben Cantu in a release made it clear what he believed is the ultimate solution for the Family City: “The public has been at the mercy of the profit-driven PG&E power structure for over 100 years. Utility companies providing service directly to the public should be non-profit entities. The state’s PUC has facilitated PG&E’s profit oriented decisions which the public has become victims to in more ways than one. I continue to support the transfer of electrical power to (South San Joaquin Irrigation District), a local non-profit public service corporation.

“I will be working with staff and the Council on the necessary plans to ensure that Manteca is well prepared in the event that a blackout takes place. Our No. 1 priority will be the safety and security of the residents of our community under any and all circumstances.”

The uncertainty of when PG&E will turn off the power for up to five days since the conditions that trigger it won’t be obvious to those impacted in Manteca has created major concerns among those that care for the sick and elderly.

Cindy Flores who helps coordinate care for health and hospice patients indicated her organization does have an emergency plan for those that they go and see but wonders how PG&E will go about notifying people.

If they follow what they did last year when they shut the power off for several days in the foothills east of Sacramento and part of the Napa Valley region they will issue a warning several hours in advance using their automated system to the phones that are registered with them as the primary account holder for homes and businesses in the areas where they plan to pull the plug.

Nicole Bradshaw noted that her mother-in -law works from home for a medical insurance coding company. If she goes without power for up to five days she would lose her job.

David Siao noted he believes “PG&E is already a convicted felon for lying during the San Bruno investigation to the feds (and probably violated their probation, which federal Judge Alsup is looking into).” He added and that given a bankrupt company like PG&E is trading at almost $20 a share, it means Wall Street still sees significant residual value after fire victims are paid pennies on the dollar some years out. It might take another wildfire with another body count to shame or otherwise force Sacramento into action, but if Paradise didn’t do it, then who knows if anything will.”

Several other email comments to the Bulletin centered around how difficult it will be on families — especially those with young children — if they are given notice just hours in advance.

One reader expressed concern about the health of her husband who is disabled with a severe brain injury should PG&E cut off power for five days.

More than a few wanted to know what they could do to help South San Joaquin Irrigation District’s efforts to take over the PG&E retail power system in Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon that is now bogged down in court.

SSJID General Manager Peter Rietkerk has indicated they are working on a strategy given that PG&E filing bankruptcy impacts pending litigation that the SSJID has against the company.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email