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Hospitals May Experience Power Outages as Fire Precautions
Utilities begin public safety power shut off programs

The Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison have begun public safety power shut off programs in various California counties as part of their Community Wildfire Safety programs. San Diego Gas and Electric currently runs a similar program. The utilities plan to temporarily disable power during extreme weather conditions, where warranted, based on the California Public Utility Commission’s Fire Threat Map.  

CHA has met with representatives from PG&E to discuss the program’s implications for patient care and hospital operations — as well as the potential impact on the overall health care delivery system. CHA requested that hospitals be exempt from or bypassed by these power outages, but was informed that the complexities of the circuits make that impossible. PG&E will notify its hospital customers of planned outages in advance. While it is difficult to determine the exact length of an outage because weather is a key factor, providers should note that outages may last as long as five to seven days.

CHA and PG&E are coordinating an upcoming conference call or webinar for hospital leaders to further discuss the public safety power shut off program. CHA will provide more information as it becomes available.

PG&E has conducted numerous outreach and education meetings to discuss the program at the local level, and hosted a state agency workshop in which CHA participated. Other workshop attendees included representatives from the California Department of Public Health’s Licensing and Certification Program, the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and others.

As this is a new program, CHA asks that hospitals inform CHA and their Regional Association representative of any issues, concerns or direct impacts related to the public safety power shut off events. For more information, visit the PG&E or Southern California Edison websites.

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