County of Marin - News Releases - Preemptive Power Shutoff

For Immediate Release
August 09, 2018

County Prepares for Preemptive Power Shutoff

PG&E’s emergency wildfire safety protocol would affect a range of public services

San Rafael, CA – To help meet the climate-driven challenge of increasing wildfires and extreme weather events, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) this spring developed a comprehensive Community Wildfire Safety Program that includes a protocol to proactively turn off power to geographic areas that are at high wildfire risk. Such an outage would affect County of Marin services to residents.

A building maintenance worker checks the diesel-powered generator at the Marin County Civic Center.Jeff Bedoya, a building maintenance worker at the Marin County Civic Center, checks a diesel-powered generator that would supply electricity to the building if it were to lose power. The generator is tested monthly.
The power shutoff protocol would be initiated by PG&E in the interest of public safety and only as a last resort during extreme weather conditions that impose a high-fire threat. PG&E stated that a planned power outage would last for a minimum of 24 hours or longer, depending on the event, due to the nature of the shutoff process and the required procedures for reactivating the lines.

A variety of public services, facilities and infrastructure maintained by the County of Marin would be impacted if extreme fire danger conditions were to occur in Marin and the shutoff protocol were to be implemented. The geographic range of PG&E’s power shutoff would determine to what extent the following services are affected. Some of the possible results are:

  • The traffic lights at 12 intersections across unincorporated Marin could lose direct power. The traffic lights would switch over to battery power for several hours. However, depending on the duration of the emergency event, the intersections may need to be controlled by California Highway Patrol officers. The intersections are located in unincorporated parts of San Rafael, Kentfield, Fairfax, Greenbrae and Larkspur.
  • Marin County Free Library branches would be closed in Corte Madera, Fairfax, Stinson Beach, Bolinas, Inverness, and Point Reyes Station.
  • Health and Human Services offices and client services in Point Reyes, San Rafael and Greenbrae would experience varying impacts depending on the location and length of the power outage
    and ability to relocate services to a facility with electrical power.

It is important to note that emergency services provided by Marin County Fire Department stations and Marin County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Operations Facility and attendant patrol substations would remain functional and operate on generator power. Also worth noting is that services and facilities maintained by Marin’s towns and cities, as well as residential and business properties, would also be impacted by PG&E’s power shutoff protocol as well.

To make the public aware of the new program, PG&E has sent letters and emails to more than 500,000 homes and businesses that are served by electric lines in high fire-threat areas of the greater North Bay. The utility set up online resources for residents to check if their property resides in an at-risk area and how they can properly prepare for an emergency-related power shutoff. PG&E recommends that everyone review their PG&E account contact information and sign up for alert notifications.

If a proactive power outage were to be deemed necessary, PG&E would issue two alerts, one 48 hours in advance and another 24 hours prior to cutting the power.

Loss of electric power will also affect landline phone usage. The Marin County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services urges residents to register for the Alert Marin notification system. Emergency officials use Alert Marin to deliver emergency notifications via cell phone, text message and email regarding incident specific information and potentially lifesaving instruction.

Residents with special needs requiring power should make arrangements in preparation for an outage, such as relocating to an area where there is power. More tips for emergency preparedness and creating a home fire safe can be found online at www.readymarin.org and www.firesafemarin.org.

The public is encouraged to utilize PG&E’s power shutoff protocol frequently asked questions webpage. The resource also details the process of how the alert notifications will function. For any additional concerns, residents may also call PG&E’s hotline at 866-743-6589.

Contact:

Craig Tackabery
Chief Assistant Director
Department of Public Works

3501 Civic Center Drive.
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6582
Email: Craig Tackabery
DPW website