OAKLAND, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--As wildfire season nears, emergency preparedness becomes even more critical. Good preparation means practicing emergency plans, having go bags packed and ready, keeping extra batteries for flashlights and radios within reach and more.
For those customers with access and functional needs, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) offers discounts on generators and batteries; sponsors a Disability Disaster Access and Resources Program; and partners with 211, a free call to help with local resources and support 24/7.
These programs are designed to help our customers when weather and wildfire risk prompts the company to initiate a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) or to enable Enhanced Powerline Safety Settings (EPSS).
“In advance of wildfire season, it’s critical that customers who require extra assistance because they are reliant on power for health and safety know there is support available,” said Marlene Santos, a PG&E EVP and the Chief Customer Officer. “Our partnerships with local community organizations mean we can better ensure the right resources get to those customers who need them most.“
Here’s how to get started:
Disability Disaster Access and Resources Program
We continue to partner with community-based organizations to assist customers with medical and independent living needs before, during and after PSPS outages. This includes collaborating with the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers’ (CFILC) Disability Disaster Access and Resources Program to support the Access and Functional Needs (AFN) community. The support for customers with medical or independent living needs may include:
- Emergency preparedness outreach and education
- Promotion of our Medical Baseline Program
- Accessible transportation resources
- Hotel stays and food stipends
- Portable backup batteries
Generators and batteries
This year, we continue to provide portable battery solutions to customers as part of the Portable Battery Program and the CFILC’s Disability Disaster Access and Resources Program.
In 2021, we delivered approximately 6,500 batteries to customers. Combined with the roughly 6,500 batteries we provided in 2020, more than 13,000 batteries were distributed through the Portable Battery Program and the Disability Disaster Access and Resources Program. The batteries were provided to those in the aging and disabled populations who rely on power for medical needs and income-qualified Medical Baseline customers in high fire-threat areas.
For 2022, we’ve removed the low-income requirements for the Portable Battery Program and offer it to Medical Baseline customers who live in High Fire-Threat Districts (HFTDs) or have been impacted by two or more recent PSPS outages. In addition to portable batteries, insulin cooler bags, miniature fridges and extension cords are provided to qualifying customers with medication that requires cold storage.
Additionally, the funding and eligibility for the Generator and Battery Rebate Program, for customers who rely on well water, customers in our Medical Baseline Program and certain essential small businesses, will expand to customers both residing in Tiers 2 or 3 HFTDs and/or who are served by an EPSS circuit. The availability of Backup Power Transfer Meters, which makes it easier and safer to connect a generator, has been expanded to all customers who have compatible portable generators in Tier 2 or 3 HFTDs and/or are served by an EPSS-circuit.
Call 211 for resources 24/7
To support our customers who rely on power for health and safety, PG&E partners with the California Network of 211s to provide help during times when it’s needed the most. 211 is a free, confidential calling and texting service that provides 24/7 connections to local resources and assists with emergency preparedness planning to minimize the hardships that may be caused by wildfire safety outages, like a Public Safety Power Shutoff.
This partnership also provides proactive outreach to help prepare those who rely on electricity for medical needs, individuals who may be disabled, older adults or customers with other medical needs. Resource coordination might include creating an emergency plan; transportation and hotel accommodations; portable backup power; food resources; and other services.
The 211 network utilizes PG&E’s existing resources, as well as resource partnerships specific to 211. 211 provides proactive outreach to all customers and serves as the first point of contact for our AFN community before, during and after a PSPS.
To learn more about 211, customers should call 211, text ‘PSPS’ to 211-211 or visit 211.org.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.