The Silicon Valley Voice

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Santa Clara Not Immune to Power Shutoffs

We heard it all over the news for months now, and it finally happened — a Public Safety Power Shutoff, or PSPS. Thankfully, due to Santa Clara’s urban, flat location, we got through it without a hitch.

While we didn’t lose power in Santa Clara, some of our neighbors in surrounding cities did. We at the City of Santa Clara and our electric utility, Silicon Valley Power, can’t thank you enough for your cooperation and understanding as we navigated our first-ever Public Safety Power Shutoff event. Through community outreach both in-person and online via email, web and social media, we aimed to canvas as much ground as we could so that you stayed informed about any impacts that may come from a power shutoff.

Here are some key takeaways from this experience:

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  • High wildfire threat elsewhere could affect us here – Although Santa Clara residents may not live in a high wildfire threat area, power may be shut off due to transmission lines running through an area that’s experiencing extreme wildfire danger conditions. Some areas did experience high wind speeds but not everywhere in the region. Even so, the South Bay was affected by power outages due to the interconnected nature of the power grid.
  • We are not immune to power shutdowns or any other electric emergency – While we are unique that Silicon Valley Power operates and maintains our own local power grid, we still rely on the joint/interconnected transmission lines throughout the State of California to deliver our solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal to deliver the bulk of electricity to Santa Clara. Fortunately, these lines were not impacted by the recent Public Safety Power Shutoff.
  • Technology is not reliable – As we saw when people from 40 counties and around the U.S. tried to access PG&E’s website at the same time, it crashed. Make sure you are signed up to receive alerts from the City and Silicon Valley Power. If technology is completely down, we will take paper copies of information to City facilities such as libraries, the senior center and City Hall as soon as we receive it.
  • Have a personal safety plan in place – Some areas affected by this event were without cell service and internet access was spotty. It is important to know how you will communicate with your loved ones. Get to know your neighbors so you can share resources, information and have another set of eyes watching over your belongings.
  • Plan for any medical needs – What do you do if you depend on electricity for your medical needs? Have a backup plan in case of an unexpected emergency.
  • Build an emergency supply kit – Californians affected by the power shutdown experienced long lines at the gas station and empty shelves at the grocery store where water once sat. Don’t wait for the next emergency to stock up.

The wildfire season isn’t over yet and another Public Safety Power Shutoff event could happen again in the coming months. Remember to have a personal safety plan in place and follow Silicon Valley Power on Twitter, twitter.com/SantaClaraPower. If and when Santa Clara is impacted by a Public Safety Power Shutoff, we will share information with you as soon as possible.

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