PLACERVILLE (CBS13) — Pacific Gas and Electric Co. says parts of the Sacramento Valley and Sierra Foothills are at an “elevated risk” of a power safety shutoff due to weather conditions this weekend.
The power company still needs to make a final decision on whether the shutoff is necessary.
These shutoff events often spark a lot of anger and frustration in the affected communities. Now one city that could be impacted this weekend is taking big steps to take back control from PG&E.
Almost every time these shutoffs happen, Placerville is affected. The sound of generators is very familiar to people.
“This is not sustainable. It’s not sustainable for everybody to run and try and get gas and keep everything on,” said Greg Henry, who lives in Placerville.
Sometimes one side of Main Street will have power, while the other does not. The city won’t be able to stop that, but it says can become a stronger negotiator.
During a council meeting this week, city staff said there’s no way to predict what will happen to PG&E in 15 to 20 years, so they want to have a backup plan already in place.
Every single Placerville City Council member voted to move forward with joining Pioneer Community Energy. It’s a nonprofit governmental program that buys electricity from PG&E. It would give Placerville more power to negotiate lower electricity costs.
“I feel like the future of energy in California is going to be kind of rocky and uncertain and the more we can do to have local officials have a seat at the table and have control over energy,” said Kara Taylor, a Placerville City Council member.
But joining Pioneer Community Energy will not stop Public Safety Power Shutoffs. PG&E still controls transmission lines and generates power in the city. However, Pioneer will serve as an advocate and work directly with PG&E to get lines turned back on during a shutoff.
“PG&E is just way too big and it’s absolutely a disaster because it’s so big and hard to manage,” Greg Henry said.
It’s not hard to find people that want to get as far away from the company as possible. Business owners say each shutoff costs thousands.
“When thousands of people are off power here and there’s no food and refrigeration, it cost tens of thousands of dollars for these communities to run generators,” said Dennis LeBlanc, who owns the new Sourdough and Company.
While Placerville’s deal with Pioneer doesn’t stop the problem, it gives the people a more powerful seat at the table and a backup plan.
Last year the city of Placerville tried to join SMUD, which is the main power source for the Sacramento Valley. But SMUD said it would not be possible to incorporate Placerville into its grid.