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County receives $155,000 from state to prepare for power shutoffs

Mid-way through a discussion about recent state funding opportunities for specific funding in power shutoff preparedness, upcoming Interim Sheriff Todd Johns supplied the missing figure of how much Plumas County will receive.

The county was just notified that its portion of $26 million is $155,000, Johns said during the Plumas County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, Dec. 10.

Before Johns provided the amount, supervisors were pondering how much and what they might do with funds from one-time General Fund monies from the state.

Specifically, Supervisor Lori Simpson was updating other supervisors about what she learned of the power shutoff situation during a recent CSAC (California State Association of Counties) meeting.

The funding is to increase the capacity of local agencies in responding to emergency incidents, especially power shutoffs, in supporting emergency operations centers, fire departments and first responders.

The funds were made available by a move from Gov. Newsom who launched the Public Safety Power Shutoff Resilience Program (PSPS). The $26 million for counties is part of a $75 million General Fund appropriation to support state and local government efforts to mitigate power shutoff impacts.

The state was receiving $37.5 million, tribes were allotted $1.5 million and cities were to receive $10 million.

CSAC provided an overall list of how counties might spend the funds. This includes advanced planning, training, coordination and updating emergency plans; and, combined with infrastructure preparedness, it could help ease the burden of being without power for extended periods.

Since this funding is geared toward power shutoffs by PG&E, Simpson told Plumas Administrator Gabriel Hydrick to check with the people in the few areas in Plumas County affected during major power shutoffs. She said she was interested in what the few residents of La Porte have to say.

Supervisor Kevin Goss said he spoke with Tobin residents and nothing insurmountable happened.

Simpson said she didn’t want to rush into spending the money, but plan carefully.

Although a larger generator is essential at the courthouse annex, Simpson didn’t want the county buying a lot more.

The current generator is only large enough to power a few computers. Services, including mental health, social services and probation, among others are vital to the public. Simpson, with other supervisors agreeing, said that those services must be allowed to continue should a shutoff occur.

Hydrick said that retired Office of Emergency Services head Nick Dawson has ideas about how the funds could be best spent. Sgt. Carson Wingfield is filling in until the OES position is filled, Hydrick continued. He suggested bringing Wingfield back for further discussions.

Supervisor Sherrie Thrall reminded other supervisors that they do have evacuation and warming centers set up around the county. She said that local hospitals are looking to help people with medications that must be refrigerated, and with oxygen equipment.

Thrall also pointed out that the county needed to make sure that any generators that now exist or are purchased must be ready to use during an emergency. As a private homeowner, Thrall said that she is always doing something with her generator to ensure it’s ready to go when she needs it.

Hydrick said that facilities services is responsible for checking all generators. Facilities Services Director Kevin Correira said he would make sure they’re checked monthly.

It was at this point in the discussion that Johns was able to announced that Plumas County is receiving “$155,000 and some change” from the state. The criteria for spending the money is specific, he added.

It was also pointed out that if the city of Portola wants funding, it has to act on its own. Wingfield would need to coordinate that as well.

At various times while Simpson was describing the CSAC meeting and what other supervisors were saying about power shutoffs, she added that the power outages are going to continue and there isn’t anything anyone can do about them.

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