Santa Clara Co. Declares State of Emergency Amid Power Outage

As California gears up for PG&E’ s unprecedented power shutoff, Santa Clara County leaders today declared a local state of emergency.

Approximately 38,250 South Bay customers—or about 100,000 individuals in all—are expected to be impacted by the utility giant’s first-ever Public Safety Power Shutoff, which is being done in a few-dozen Northern California counties to reduce wildfire risk.

Lights in San Jose and neighboring cities were expected to go off at noon today, but an hour into the anticipated shutoff, PG&E officials said the blackout would actually occur sometime in the afternoon or as late as 8pm.

At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, David Flamm, the deputy director of the county's office of emergency management, said that they wanted to ensure they were “properly postured” and “placing the right gravity” on the situation.

“We do an emergency proclamation here at the county whenever we see an event that looks like it could require aid,” Flamm said. “[It’s a] recognition that we’re potentially going to have over 100,000 individuals without power for a number of days and not knowing the exact duration of the event and not knowing how that could ... be potentially impacting our services.”

County Counsel James Williams said the proclamation gives the ability to “mobilize” resources more flexibly.

“We have big swaths of the county that don’t have a lot of population, but they’re very expansive areas that people may travel through,” he said. “We just don’t know what that’s going to look like with an extended power shutoff in terms of things like cell phone reception, lighting, security and other needs. We need to be fully ready to deal with that.”

The East Valley Health Center in Alum Rock, Reid-Hillview Airport and a county probation branch in Morgan Hill are all expected to be de-energized. County officials, however, say they are ready with backup generators.

Flamm also said that they’ve been notified of multiple reports where PG&E’s “field level staff” were met with “aggression.” KTVU reported earlier today that the company erected barriers in front of PG&E’s San Francisco headquarters to protect employees.

“We’re not promoting, and in fact, are doing what we can to mitigate any aggression to the PG&E staff in the field working,” Flamm said. “Those folks are doing the best they can in the field to mitigate any potential additional impacts from this.”

The local emergency declaration will be in effect for the duration of the power shutoff and must be ratified by the county Board of Supervisors within seven days.

Grace Hase is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @grace_hase.

4 Comments

  1. While we are in the “dark” age, are we serous about using all electrical for new buildings? At lease we can cook with gas stove during power outage now!

    • > are we serous about using all electrical for new buildings?

      Seems like a really dumb idea.

      It must have been thought up by one of our up and coming local politicians. Let’s find out who it is so they can get proper blame. We don’t want them to go unnoticed.

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