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PG&E inadequacies cost Ripon $170K to keep water flowing
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The Ripon City Council recently took some precautions in the event of an extended PG&E power outage.

Elected leaders agreed to purchase a 300 kilowatt portable generator for Well 18 at a cost of $172,000 while renting for another year a 56 kilowatt portable generator for the sewer lift stations at both Parallel Avenue and Oak Avenue at an annual cost of $17,000, and a 10 kilowatt portable generator to be used at the City fueling station at an annual cost of $2,000 during fire season.

Those expenses would be paid through the Water and Sewer Enterprise Capital Funds, according to Engineering Supervisor James Pease.

He noted at the June 9 meeting that the City is powered 60 percent from PG&E and 40 percent from the Modesto Irrigation District.

"The police department and city hall is powered by MID — The (Ripon Police Department) does have a backup generator if power goes out," he said.

In the event of a power outage, the City's water systems would be the most impacted, he added.

"Two city wells would be nonoperational, system pressure would drop, and water restrictions would need to be implemented," said Pease, who revealed earlier this year of two power outage events resulting in lost power to one of the PG&E-powered wells.

"One (of the power outages) was due to wind and the other was due to an accident," he said.

Despite the well being down for several hours, the City was able to withstand that loss since water usage is down during the winter months.

"This would put us in a bad position if it had happened in the summer," Pease said.

The City's sewer system without PG&E power would cause two critical lift stations to be non-operational.

"A homeowner would most likely not even be aware. In a bad situation, the sewer system would back up into the street," said Pease.

The Corporation Yard with the two 10,000 gallon tanks -- diesel and gasoline, to fuel police and public works vehicles -- is powered by PG&E coupled with a backup generator.

PG&E recently notified customers of the 2020 Public Safety Power Shutoff program, in which loss of electrical power may occur for up to five days during fire season in an effort to reduce the risk of starting a wildfire.

Although PG&E anticipates PSPS events for the 2020 fire season will be an improvement from last year, Pease, in his report, said that's no guarantee an event will not occur in Ripon.