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Like pretty much everyone else in California right about now, county officials are none too happy with PG&E. And after the colossal confusion and disruption caused by a series of public safety planned shutdowns (PSPS) this month, the county wants some answers.
Humboldt County Board of Supervisors Chair Rex Bohn and Sheriff Billy Honsal have written a letter to PG&E’s CEO and its senior vice-president asking for an explanation as to why the local community was even affected by the shutdowns, given the fact that we have local power plants capable of generating more than enough power to supply local consumers.
“One of the biggest questions this county has,” the letter states, “is why PG&E didn’t put a plan in place to develop a dedicated grid for Humboldt County when the new power plant was being constructed.”
The Humboldt Bay Generating Station, completed in 2010, was built as a replacement for the old nuclear power plant, which operated with two steam boilers. The new station, combined with the region’s two biomass power plants, can generate 197 megawatts of electricity, according to the California Independent System Operator, which oversees the high voltage transmission system. That’s more than the area’s peak demand for electricity, which the Redwood Coast Energy Authority estimates at around 180 megawatts.
In a Facebook post, Bohn wrote, “We want answers and we deserve them.”
Here’s the full text of the letter from Bohn and Honsal:
Bill Johnson, Chief Executive Officer
Michael Lewis, Senior Vice President, Electric Operations
Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E)
77 Beal Street
San Francisco, CA
Dear CEO Johnson and Senior VP Lewis:
We are writing to express grave concerns over PG&E’s handling of recent Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events in Humboldt County. Over the past three weeks we have experienced three PSPS events that have severely impacted the elderly, the disabled, some of our most vulnerable and needy residents, those with critical medical needs, along with small businesses (many of which are the backbone of our community), hospitals and medical providers who provide critical emergency care along with needed cancer treatments and diagnostic services.
Humboldt County has always had a good working relationship/partnership with PG&E. We supported PG&E’s decommissioning of the local PG&E Nuclear Power Plant and the rebuilding of the current plant, which still has onsite nuclear storage.
One of the biggest questions this county has is why PG&E didn’t put a plan in place to develop a dedicated grid for Humboldt County when the new power plant was being constructed. Now, when the PSPS events occur, Humboldt is subject to the weather events happening in neighboring counties. The PSPS event in the Central Valley shuts the transmission lines to Humboldt County, and forces our local power plant, and two bio mass plants from energizing the grid. PG&E needs to come up with an immediate plan to utilize our local power generation plants to energize the local grid minimize the impact of future PSPS events.
We strongly urge PG&E to hold a Public Forum in Humboldt County or at the very least, come to a Board of Supervisors meeting to explain why in the planning and construction of the new PG&E power plant, there was no allowance for a dedicated grid that would allow for the switching of power from the existing power plant during these events.
Rex Bohn, Chair
Humboldt County Board of Supervisors
William Honsal, Sheriff
County of Humboldt