Attention - Utility Wildfire Safety
Healdsburg Electric Departments's Wildfire Mitigation Plan
Over the last few years, devastating and destructive wildfires driven by climate change have had a significant impact on California and the areas surrounding Healdsburg. As termed by former Governor Brown, this is the new “abnormal”. These changes in our climate coupled with increased housing in and adjacent to wildland urban interfaces (WUI) now require electric utilities to reassess and rethink their past operational procedures and construction standards. Under the new laws every publicly owned utility must prepare and present a WMP to its governing body annually. Below is a link to the City’s current utility wildfire mitigation plan. This plan is under review by a qualified consultant and the findings of that review will help inform and revise the plan to further reduce the risk of wildfire mitigation.
Healdsburg Utility Wildfire Safety: Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How does the City of Healdsburg get its electric power?
A: To deliver energy to our customers, the City owns generation plants (geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, natural gas) throughout northern California. Once the energy is produced, it is transported across the State’s transmission grid, a network of high-voltage powerlines, to the City’s substation at Badger Park. The City owns and operates the distribution powerlines that deliver electric power from the substation to our electric customers.
- “Electrical Grid 101: All You Need to Know!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbPmsBmo03Y
- U.S. Department of Energy: “Understanding the Grid” https://www.energy.gov/articles/infographic-understanding-grid
Q: Can the City guarantee power because we have our own electric utility?
A: As with most things, there are no guarantees; this includes the supply of electric power. Planned maintenance, birds, squirrels, weather events, and the occasional car accident can cause power outages and customers should be prepared for these events. We do provide 24/7 on-call staff coverage to speed outage restoration after-hours and our maintenance and repair programs tend to prevent many outages from occurring. The emergency Utility Hotline can be reached by calling (707) 431-7000 or toll free at (855) 755-6586.
Q: How is the City preparing for the increasing threat of wildfires?
A: The City has and continues to implement best practices such as constant patrolling of electric lines as well as annual inspections; installing new equipment, line clearance tree trimming, and is actively developing a long-term wildfire mitigation plan for our electric utility.
Q: Will the City turn off electric power should a fire or a high-wind event occur in Healdsburg?
A: If there is a safety concern, the City will assess the situation and may shut down (de-energize) portions of the power lines. Power outages in Healdsburg are rare and the City’s proactive work – such as ongoing tree trimming and overhead line maintenance -- significantly reduce the need to de-energize lines, but electric outages and public-safety power shutdowns are still a possibility.
Q: What areas within Healdsburg are most likely to be affected by power shutdowns for public safety?
A: The areas most likely to experience power shutdowns are along the western slope of the ridge east of the golf course and adjacent to the City’s open spaces. These areas are within the City’s Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) and by their nature have increased vegetation and risk of wildfire.
Q: How will the City’s electric customers know if there is a public-safety power shutdown?
A: If the City needs to de-energize power lines in the event of a disaster such as a wildfire, the City will make every effort to communicate those shutdowns in advance via tools including NIXLE, emergency alerts on the City’s website, and social media. The City is taking preventative measures to lessen or avoid the need for power shutdowns.
Q: How do I know if the City has my most up-to-date contact information, including my cell phone number?
A: City utility customers can update their contact information by calling the CRC at (707) 431-7000 or toll-free (855) 755-6586. You will be prompted to enter your phone number, after that select option 2 and a live representative will assist you in updating your billing information.
Q: PG&E is stating that they will de-energize portions of California’s transmission systems when wildfires occur. How will this affect Healdsburg?
A: The state’s transmission grid, a series of high-voltage power lines, is extremely reliable. The City does depend on PG&E’s transmission system to power the City’s sub-station, but the primary transmission feed does not run through fire-threat zones (Tier 2 or 3). Subsequently, this line should not be affected by PG&E’s transmission shutdowns. Shutting down transmission lines is rare and the chance of Healdsburg losing its transmission source – and therefore electric power citywide -- is very unlikely.
Q: How fast will power be restored after a public-safety power shutdown?
A: It depends on the specific situation – it could be a few hours, 24 hours, or longer. Regardless of the reason for the power outage, the City will take every safe and sensible step to restore power as soon as possible. During widespread outages, the City of Healdsburg will provide status updates through social media and NIXLE alerts of estimated times to restore power. We encourage the City’s electric customers to sign up for NIXLE by texting your zip code (95448) to 888777. Following the City’s Facebook and Nextdoor pages will also provide up-to-date and current information from the City.
Q: How does the City know when it’s safe to re-energize the power lines?
A: Anytime there is a threat of a power shutdown, the City Utility Staff will patrol the City’s power lines to monitor and assess the conditions of the lines. The City will perform visual inspections of the power lines to confirm it’s safe to turn the power back on. These visual patrols take time, but the City will do everything reasonably possible to re-energize the power lines safely and quickly.
Q: As a customer, what should I do to prepare for a power outage?
A: Great question. The City of Healdsburg has developed an emergency preparedness brochure (in both English and Spanish) to help the community better prepare for natural disasters in general. Included in the brochure is information such as how to create an “emergency kit”. A digital version of the brochure is available here: https://www.ci.healdsburg.ca.us/460/Emergency-Services.
Specific to a public-safety power shutdown, below are some actions that you, your family, friends, and neighbors should take to prepare.
- Sign up for the City’s emergency alerts via NIXLE by texting your zip code (95448) to 888777
- Charge your cell phone and identify back-up charging methods for phones and other electronic devices.
- If the power does go out, make sure to turn off all unnecessary appliances such as stoves, clothing iron, hair dryers, lights, and/or curling irons.
- Freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator, or coolers in case the power goes out. If your normal water supply is contaminated or unavailable, the melting ice will also supply drinking water.
- Make sure you have a supply of bottled water. It is recommended to store one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days.
- Prepare or re-stock your emergency kit with flashlights, portable cell-phone chargers, fresh batteries, first aid supplies, cash, water, and food that will last up to five days.
- Keep emergency, family, and other important phone numbers accessible in hard copy
- Plan for any medical needs such as, ongoing prescriptions, medications that need refrigeration, or medical devices that require power.
- If you are dependent on an electric or battery-dependent medical technology such as a breathing machine, a power wheelchair or scooter, or home oxygen or dialysis, it is critical that you have a plan in place for an extended power outage.
- Plan ahead for the needs of pets and/or livestock.
- Know how to manually open your garage door or other access points of your property that rely on power.
- If you have a backup generator, make sure the generator is ready and safe to operate. Always follow the generator’s safety instructions and never refuel your generator while it’s running.
- Identify any unique needs of your family and loved ones should there be a loss of power.
- After power is restored remember to reset clocks, irrigation controls, programmable thermostats and other electronic devices.
Please also review these additional resources to help you prepare for public-safety power shutdowns and wildfires.
- Fact sheet on public-safety power shutdowns: http://prepareforpowerdown.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Statewide_FactSheet_0503.pdf
- Disaster preparedness information from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security: https://www.ready.gov/wildfires
- CAL FIRE wildfire preparedness information: http://www.readyforwildfire.org/
Q: Who do I call if I experience a power outage or other utility-related emergency or issue?
A: Call (707) 431-7000 or (855) 755-6586. You will be asked to enter your account’s phone number including the area code. After that a live representative will assist you with your problem.
Q: What if I have more questions about public-safety power shut-downs?
A: Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions and comments.