Program will address vulnerable customer needs during PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoffs
Hayward, Calif. (November 20, 2019) – The East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) board of directors tonight approved half a million dollars to develop and fund a program aimed at addressing the issues caused by PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) for its customers that are medically dependent on electricity.
Power shutoff events increase Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, threaten our customers’ safety, and disrupt operations throughout EBCE’s service territory of Alameda County, as well as the rest of northern California. PG&E initiated multiple PSPS events in October 2019, cutting power to almost 1 million accounts and 3 million people across California.
In total 50,000 EBCE customers were affected by the second October PSPS event. More than 1,000 of those customers were on PG&E’s Medical Baseline program, which serves people with special energy needs because of a medical condition. EBCE has 10,000 Medical Baseline customers, which indicates they require special notification when power shut offs may occur and provides them special privileges if they are at risk for being disconnected for lack of payment. However, Medical Baseline enrollments may not accurately capture all EBCE’s vulnerable, electricity dependent customers.
As a leader in our community as well as in the energy space, EBCE is offering solutions to those customers who will be most at risk in future PSPS events, especially those who are reliant on electricity for their medical needs. In a display of this leadership, the Board of Directors approved funding for a program that enables EBCE to better understand its Medical Baseline / electricity dependent customers, assesses their individual needs, and develop a set of solutions to mitigate critical impacts to this customer segment as a result of PSPS events.
The approved funding will support completion of three program activities through June 2020:
- Finding the best solution: EBCE will partner with local public health institutions such as hospitals and municipal emergency services agencies to identify customers with critical, electricity dependent medical needs in Alameda County. EBCE will work with community partners to identify these customers, assess their individual needs, and develop the appropriate PSPS-response solutions.
- Immediate action with Solar + Storage: EBCE will partner with other Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs) and the private sector to deploy solar and battery energy storage systems on homes of at least 30 Medical Baseline / electricity dependent customers to deliver immediate relief and test the approach and pricing for this solution. These back-up power systems will allow customers that are unable to leave their homes to safely stay at home during a power outage. It could also reduce power outage-related calls that these customers place to emergency services.
- Scaling the best results: EBCE will take the learnings from the first two activities and contract with a consultant to develop a comprehensive solution for all types of Medical Baseline / electricity dependent customers.
The output of these efforts will be a suite of solutions for Medical Baseline / electricity dependent customers that EBCE will implement going forward in future budget years. This effort is the first step in many that EBCE will take to promote the health and well-being of the electricity-dependent vulnerable customers in Alameda County.
A copy of the staff report and presentation to the Board is available at https://ebce.org/wp-content/uploads/Item-18-Board-Memo-Medical-Baseline-Resilience-Progam-Funding.pdf
About East Bay Community Energy (EBCE)
EBCE is a not-for-profit public agency that operates a Community Choice Energy program for Alameda County and eleven incorporated cities, serving more than 550,000 residential and commercial customers throughout the county. EBCE initiated service in June 2018 and is one of 19 community choice aggregation (CCA) programs operating in California. CCAs are expediting the climate action goals of their communities and those of California. EBCE is committed to providing clean power at competitive rates while reinvesting in our local communities. For more information about East Bay Community Energy, visit https://ebce.org/