Power lines
The sun sets behind power lines in Carlsbad. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 Wednesday to advance a proposal to help unincorporated area residents during power outages, including providing them with backup generators if needed.

Supervisor Jim Desmond said the goal is to ensure that residents have access to reliable electricity during a time of looming threats caused by issues such as supply chain interruptions and international crises like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“It’s very important we start preparing for possible grid failures and other energy emergencies, and possible fires,” Desmond said.

In an earlier news release, Desmond said many of the grid problems the county now faces are “from failed state policies in Sacramento. But San Diegans are strong, and county government needs to work proactively to partner with and protect the people we serve,” he added.

Supervisors directed County Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer to study options for better community resiliency, including teaming up with San Diego Gas & Electric, which has a generator assistance program.

Robbins-Meyer will also research the benefits or potential drawbacks of setting up a county program to offer rebates to residents or local businesses, and the need for microgrids (or stand-alone energy sources), as well as seeking out public feedback.

Supervisors also voted to exempt the proposal from environmental review, in accordance with the state Environmental Quality Act.

Based on suggestions from Supervisors Nathan Fletcher and Nora Vargas, the proposal would also:

— add or include other energy providers such as San Diego Community Power and Clean Energy Alliance;

— request emissions data for list of qualified (or more environmentally friendly) generators;

— coordinate research with emissions studies being prepared by the county Office of Environmental and Climate Justice, and the University of San Diego’s Energy Policy Initiatives Center;

— include coordination across federal, local and state levels; and

— include green and zero-emission alternatives, if the county will provide support.

Robbins-Meyer will report back to the board within 180 days with options, although Desmond suggested that she and fellow staffers return sooner, if possible.

Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer was absent from Wednesday’s meeting, which focused on land use and environmental issues, according to her spokesman.

–City News Service



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Ellen Bullock