The Lafayette City Council is expected at Monday’s meeting to ask the California Public Utilities Commission to require PG&E to reimburse it for power shutoff-related emergency and overtime costs.
(TNS) — Concerned about last month’s wave of PG&E’s power shutoffs and their financial toll on the city, the Lafayette City Council will seek to recoup its overtime costs and revenue losses.
The council is expected at Monday’s meeting to ask the California Public Utilities Commission to require PG&E to reimburse it for power shutoff-related emergency and overtime costs.
In addition, Lafayette also will apply for a grant of $166,534 to California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) to fund emergency equipment and for an assessment of the city’s communications infrastructure, which a city report said failed during the planned power outages. This prevented the city from providing “essential services and emergency public information to residents,” the report said.
The city spent nearly $12,000 in overtime costs in public works and police services during the outages on Oct. 9-10 and Oct. 27-29, according to a staff report. The parks and recreation department estimated that it lost $10,000 in revenues. And city offices were closed for two business days and did not issue permits, respond to emails or phone calls, or prepare reports.
On Oct. 25, Councilman Cameron Burks called for the city to submit a letter to the PUC to try and recoup the costs. In an email to City Attorney Mala Subramanian, Burks said the letter should be sent since the root cause of the planned power shutoff “can be argued as attributable to their (Pacific Gas and Electric) failure to maintain their operated infrastructure over a number of decades, as mandated by the CPUC.”
Currently, the city cannot recoup its costs because the Public Utilities Commission authorized PG&E to shut off the power, according to Subramanian. But she said Lafayette can ask the PUC at a later meeting to consider requiring the utility to reimburse local agencies.
Burks said in an email Saturday that the letter and proposed city policy changes are a sign that Lafayette believes that “profound reform of our utility provider is in order.
“PG&E is a failed institution, with abhorrent leadership, that through years of negligence in maintaining its infrastructure, followed by egregious planning and execution of its power shutoff program, has placed our community in grave life-safety and financial risk; I have spoken with countless Lafayette residents and businesses who have told me that PG&E will never again hold their trust and confidence.” Burks continued in his email. “I believe strongly that the council must support and listen to its community in this regard via formal action.”
According to PG&E, about 7,500 PG&E customers in Lafayette were affected during the first power shutoff and about 8,100 customers during the second shutoff.
In addition, two fires broke out on Oct. 27, one on Camino Diablo and the other on Pleasant Hill Road, prompting an evacuation alert to nearly 800 homes. The Oct. 27 fires extensively damaged the Lafayette Tennis Club building on Camino Pablo, destroyed two outbuildings and did minor damage to the roof of a home.
PG&E told state utility regulators its equipment had malfunctioned near the site of the two fires in Lafayette, and Contra Costa County fire officials later confirmed the company’s electrical equipment caused both fires.
In reaction to the power shutoffs, Gov. Gavin Newsom made state grant funds available for local jurisdictions to offset the effects of the shutoffs. Nov. 12 is the deadline for submitting grant applications.
Police Chief Ben Alldritt said the city’s grant of $166,534 will be for two generators to provide backup power for two city buildings, 10 portable radios to maintain communications in an emergency or natural disaster instead of relying on cell phones, a mobile satellite dish to provide high-speed internet service for first responders and consulting services to assess Lafayette’s communications infrastructure.
The Lafayette City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at the Lafayette Library & Learning Center-Don Tatzin Community Hall, 3491 Mount Diablo Blvd.
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