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Public Safety Power Shutoff

If extreme fire danger conditions threaten a portion of the electric system serving a community, it may be necessary to turn off electricity in the interest of public safety - a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS).  Beginning with the 2019 wildfire season, PG&E announced expansion of their PSPS program to include all electric lines (distribution and transmission) that pass through high fire-threat areas.  This is one of the additional precautionary measures being implemented to help reduce the risk of wildfires. 

Map designating the Fire-Threat Areas within California. 

The most likely electric lines to be considered for shutting off for safety will be those that pass through areas that have been designated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) as “elevated” (Tier 2) or “extreme” (Tier 3) risk for wildfire.   The City of Tracy does not have Tier 2 or Tier 3 areas, but because the energy system relies on power lines working together to provide electricity, PG&E customers in Tracy could potentially be affected by power outages if transmission lines serving the City of Tracy pass through an area that is experiencing a PSPS due to extreme fire danger conditions.

There are many questions and concerns that arise out of this PSPS discussion—namely, what is our community doing about it? What are our procedures? On this page, you’ll find information about what to expect during the event of a Public Safety Power Shutoff in Tracy, FAQs, and some additional PSPS resources.

What Will Happen During a PSPS?

  • Water: The City of Tracy will continue to serve its residents with an uninterrupted potable water supply by using existing permanent and portable power generators. Residents will be asked to make efforts to limit water usage by turning off irrigation systems and only using water for essential needs. Irrigation of street medians and right-of-way landscaping will be stopped. If the power shut off goes beyond one day, water supplies to major industrial and commercial establishments may also be turned off to ensure water supply is available for the health and safety of City residents. Restrictions of water use will also be enforced on new construction. City irrigation systems for parks, sports facilities and public landscaping will be shut down to further conserve resources.

  • Sewage: The City’s sewage system will continue functioning, as the City has the ability to extend the sewage system function with the use of existing generators and holding tanks for the primary treated effluent at the Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP). Residents would be asked to limit use of the sewage system by doing things like not flushing toilets as frequently.  The City is actively exploring options to increase its capacity to operate the WWTP.

  • Traffic Control: The City’s 10 major intersections are equipped with backup batteries that will last between 3-4 hours. Additionally, the City has generators to make at least three major street intersection signals functional for about 8-10 hours with a single load of diesel fuel supply. The other traffic signals in Tracy would become four-way stops by default during power outages in accordance with the California Vehicle code. Motorists would be asked to follow all rules of the road and use caution in their travels.  

  • Cellular Networks: The City has been in touch with cell phone companies and understand that they are actively working on their contingency plans to assist consumers in the event of a potential power shutdown by PG&E. This is a statewide issue and as soon as the City hears back from them, we will share the information with residents.

  • Public Safety (Police and Fire): The South San Joaquin County Fire Authority (SSJCFA) and Tracy Police Department are engaged in the incident action planning process with PG&E and other community stakeholders to develop a City of Tracy PSPS Incident Action Plan (IAP). An IAP is a written plan that defines incident objectives and reflects the tactics necessary to manage an incident during an operational period. An operational period is typically 12-24 hours at the beginning of an incident requiring extensive response efforts, is established during Phase 1 of an incident and subsequently reviewed and adjusted throughout the life cycle of the incident, as operations require. The IAP will include plans for the potential activation of the Tracy Emergency Operations Center if power to City Hall is lost, plans for communicating with employees and the public, as well as information about designation of a generator-powered facility to be made available to the public as a PG&E community resource center.

    The City’s PSPS IAP will complement the Draft San Joaquin County Hazard Annex Electrical System De-Energization Plan, which was developed by the San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services and is currently in the review stages. This is a supporting addendum to the San Joaquin Operational Area Emergency Operations Plan and links to both have been made available for public review.The City of Tracy Police facility and all SSJCFA fire stations that are staffed 24 hours a day are equipped with generators for providing power to those facilities. SSJCFA is looking into cooling options for their apparatus bays in an effort to make those spaces available to the public, if need be. Public safety service delivery will continue in the case of a PSPS, but the public should expect delays in response times due to an expected increase in call volume.

  • Public Works: The City of Tracy’s Public Works facility has a back-up generator, fuel tanks on site and a vehicle with a 50-60 gallon tank for fuel delivery. In the event of a PSPS, Public Works would be responsible for ensuring adequate fuel supplies for emergency vehicles and City back-up generators.

    The Public Works Department is also working with cellular providers in the area, who are actively working on their contingency plans to assist consumers in the event of a PSPS. Cellular providers have noted that they are required to have a minimum of eight hours of battery back-up power per FCC regulations. This is a statewide issue and updates will be provided as they become available.

  • Transportation: The Tracer Bus system has a fleet of vehicles that run primarily on gasoline or diesel fuel. The back-up generator at the Public Works facility would allow the buses to continue to fuel continue operations. As there is currently not a back-up generator for the Tracy Transit Station, bus dispatching operations would be modified to ensure continued operations through the use of radios installed on the buses. The ability to use radios will depend on the availability of signal from nearby towers.

  • Coordination with Community Stakeholders: In addition to PG&E and the San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services, the City is coordinating PSPS planning efforts with our local school districts, churches, non-profit organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, FEMA, the Defense Logistics Agency, local hospitals and medical facilities.

  • Stay Informed: The City will continue advising residents through email, press releases, social media, the City website and public service announcements. In the case of a PSPS affecting Tracy, alerts and updates from the City will be made via email, the City website and social media advising of designated shelter sites and other available resources based on the information provided at the time by PG&E. Staff is currently working with Nixle and the County to enhance our mass notification abilities and regular updates on our PSPS preparation efforts can be expected. 

    PG&E's Public  Safety Power Shutoff Procedure Summary.

How You Can Help Minimize the Impact of a PSPS

In the event of a PSPS affecting the City of Tracy, we are prepared to continue providing essential services to the community without power for a period of 48 hours.  City leaders are currently assessing how to mitigate longer outages. PG&E expects to be able to visually inspect the system for damage and restore power to most customers within 24-48 hours after extreme weather has passed, but customers are encouraged to prepare for outages lasting longer than 48 hours. The public needs to update their contact info with PG&E to receive alerts/notifications directly, follow @PGE4ME on Twitter, visit pge.com for additional information on creating an emergency kit, checklist and obtain outage information – searches can be done by address/area to see if there are any outages, the reason for the outages & when power is expected to be restored.  Most importantly, the public can sign up for text messages/emails to receive updates on specific outages via their website.

The City is currently conducting an assessment of our current resources (e.g. generators, fuel sources, Tracy PD emergency operations center, etc.), evaluating the potential impacts of a PSPS to city services and reviewing emergency operations plans already in place to develop a plan specifically for mitigating PSPS events in our City. At this time, the community should plan to be self-sufficient, expect traffic and street lights not to be working, longer emergency services response times due to increased call volume, functional water and sewer services at a reduced level, potential cell service impacts and the closure of schools, banks and businesses (including gas stations).

How the Community Can Prepare for a PSPS

One of the key calls to action is for PG&E customers to update their contact information at their earliest convenience to help PG&E notify them in the event of a possible PSPS:

  • Update contact info with PG&E online or by calling 1-866-743-6589 during normal business hours to receive alerts directly from PG&E through automated calls, texts and emails, when and where possible, prior to a PSPS

  • PG&E accountholders can give permission to family members or friends who want to be notified of a PSPS activation to add another person’s phone number to an account to be contacted to ensure they can help with their notification or emergency planning in the event of a PSPS.

  • Follow @PGE4ME on Twitter

  • Sign up for text messages/emails to receive updates on specific PG&E outages

  • PG&E customers dependent on life-support equipment (including CPAP machines) and/or require special heating or cooling needs for certain medical conditions should sign up for PG&E’s Medical Baseline Program, which provides additional energy at the lowest price for customers and ensure the special medical needs of these customers are addressed during a PSPS.

  • Check PG&E’s open house schedule for upcoming open house opportunities.

  • Visit pge.com for additional information on creating an emergency kit, checklist and to obtain outage information – searches can be done by address/area to see if there are any outages, the reason for the outages & when power is expected to be restored.

  • Develop your own plan using the aforementioned resources:

  • Build or restock emergency supply kits with flashlights, fresh batteries, first aid supplies and cash.

  • If you have children, make sure any clothing set aside for an emergency still fits them.

  • Check the expiration dates on medicine and emergency food items.

  • Establish an emergency meeting location.

  • Know how to manually open garage doors and automatic gates.

  • Keep vehicles fueled up.

  • Keep cell phones and/or other electronics charged.

  • Identify backup charging methods for phones and keep a hard copy of emergency numbers on hand.

  • Plan for medical needs like medications that require refrigeration or devices that need power.

  • Know how to turn off your main electricity switch at the time of the PSPS, so when power comes back on the surge won’t ruin appliances.

  • If considering using a back-up generator, visit PGE.com/generator for information and helpful guides on sizing and safety tips to consider.

  • Marketplace.pge.com is another resource with links and connections to vendors who provide generators and other resources.

  • Use a qualified electrician to install generators to ensure that it is appropriately ventilated, safely connected to the grid and will disconnect from the grid – this is very important for the safety of PG&E field personnel who are working on the lines if generators are operating and not disconnected from the grid.

  • If you have a standby emergency generator, make sure it is working and has fuel.

  • Review the Draft San Joaquin County Hazard Annex Electrical System De-Energization Plan, a supporting annex to the San Joaquin Operational Area Emergency Operations Plan, which outlines procedures that guide a collaborative response by local governments, special districts, and allied agencies in the San Joaquin County Operational Area to the threat of or actual de-energization of electrical systems due to extreme fire danger conditions.

  • Email PG&E with any outstanding PSPS questions: wildfiresafety@pge.com

  • Text your zip code to 888777 to receive Nixle alerts from your local agencies

  • Visit the new City of Tracy PSPS Preparedness website for the latest information and updates specific to the City of Tracy, along with links to various resources.

Citizens are advised to create an emergency supply kit with enough supplies to last up to a week. That includes:

  • Setting aside one gallon of drinking water per person, per day.
  • Non-perishable food that is easy to prepare without power.
  • Non-electric can opener, along with forks, spoons, and knives.
  • Adequate baby and pet food if a household has either or both.
  • Flashlights (Do not use candles.)
  • At least two extra sets of batteries.
  • A battery-powered or hand-crank weather radio.
  • A mobile phone with a portable charger.
  • Basic first aid kits, prescriptions and non-prescription medicine.
  • Toiletries, blankets, and clothing.
  • Activities for children.
  • Cash and credit cards (If possible, put aside at least $100 in cash.)
  • Important documents and other useful items such as paper towels and trash bags.

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