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Smart Investments Keep Customers in Service

Post Date:10/11/2019 3:15 PM

News Release Mast

Contact: Jesse Saich, (530) 642-4127, jsaich@eid.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Placerville, Calif. — In the early hours of the morning on Wednesday, October 9, the power was shut off in the majority of EID’s 220-square-mile service area as a result of Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) program.  This is the second time EID has been challenged by widespread power outages since PG&E rolled out its Community Wildfire Safety Program (CWSP) in 2018, which included planned outages under the PSPS program.  In spring of 2019, PG&E announced that it would significantly increase the program in response to increasing fire hazards across its service area.

Senior Electrician and Instrumentation Technician Mitch Wydeveld troubleshoots one of the District’s 85 large generators designed to provide critical backup power during events such as the October 2019 PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff event.So when the power went out on Wednesday morning, EID personnel were poised and ready to implement previously developed plans of action built on months of planning, pre-positioning assets, and investments in resources.

“EID’s operations rely upon uninterrupted electrical power through approximately 170 separate electrical service connections from PG&E in order to ensure safe and reliable operations,” said EID Operations Director Dan Corcoran. “Most of these connections directly supply the electricity for the drinking water and wastewater treatment, distribution, pumping, and hydropower generation facilities critical to the 24/7 operational needs for these facilities.  Any loss of power requires immediate action to protect public safety.  When the lights went out, District staff, many of whom had no power at their own homes, responded without skipping a beat to support fellow members of our community by providing ongoing drinking water and firefighting supplies as well as wastewater treatment during this challenging time.”

The EID Board of Directors, recognizing the critical need to ensure uninterrupted power and increasing risk to maintaining water and wastewater service under PG&E’s PSPS program, unanimously approved over $800,000 in the past year alone for the purchase and installation of a number of back up electrical generators at critical sites. These recent acquisitions are in addition to dozens of generators EID has previously invested in and deployed at key locations to maintain water and wastewater services to the more than 126,000 people it serves in El Dorado County.

“During this outage, EID has been maintaining approximately 85 large generators to power various water, wastewater, hydroelectric, fleet, and administration facilities,” said Corcoran. “In addition to those large assets, we have over 70 smaller generators to assist with backup power for radio communications and the SCADA software system EID personnel use to remotely monitor and control facilities. Since the current outage is affecting the Electrical and Instrumentation Technicians Mark Cumbra and Rich Wheeler test one of the District's 85 large generators designed to provide critical backup power during events such as the October 2019 PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff event.  majority of EID’s service area, many of these generators are currently in use.”

Generators in place need fuel to run on and EID personnel have deployed comprehensive, pre-planned refueling schedules and routes to ensure every generator across the District’s wide service area is able to run without interruption to support our customers.

“This has been another all-hands-on-deck moment,” said EID General Manager Jim Abercrombie. “Our customers have been outstanding in helping us weather this challenge. Though we have backup power running critical infrastructure, we asked customers to use water sparingly and the response has been tremendous—not having to worry about high demand on both the water and wastewater systems helped reduce the stress on facilities that are running on emergency power and ensuring continuous safe operation until normal conditions can be restored on utility grid power.

“On behalf of EID’s hardworking men and women, I want to thank our customers deeply for their patience during this outage. It is extremely gratifying to maintain high-quality water and wastewater service to all of our customers during these challenging events. It’s very clear that our customers have worked together as one community to respond to this challenge.”

Visit our PG&E PSPS webpage for more background on EID's preparations.

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EID is a public agency dedicated to providing high quality water, wastewater treatment, recycled water, hydropower, and recreation services in an environmentally and fiscally responsible manner.