Generators installed ahead of PSPS season |

Generators installed ahead of PSPS season

Traffic slowed for a “cone zone” along the 400 block of Sutton Way in Grass Valley Tuesday, allowing Pacific Gas & Electric to install generators at the Brunswick substation.

Motorists sometimes stopped or slowly weaved through a brief maze of orange, plastic cones as flaggers from Donohoo Temporary Traffic Control guided drivers safely through the work area while generators were unloaded from a flatbed truck.

The generators were to support any Public Safety Power Shut-off operations that could be implemented during the wildfire season, said Megan McFarland, PG&E spokesperson.

“Traffic will return to normal sometime (Tuesday) afternoon and the work will continue Wednesday,” said McFarland. “But the work will not impact traffic patterns.”

The goal of the PSPS system is to prevent catastrophic conditions that may be triggered by weather conditions during the wildfire season that typically runs from June to November. Conditions warranting a PSPS episode include hot temperatures, high humidity or a lot of dry ground vegetation, she added.

“We’d take all that into account, but there’s no formula when a Public Safety Power Shut-off will occur,” said McFarland. “But we don’t take shut-offs lightly. It’s mainly to prevent a catastrophic wildfire.”

PSPS implementation typically is a collaborative decision by PG&E management and stakeholders, McFarland noted. The new generators will not impact utility rates.

The PSPS generator system makes certain electrical generation continue when weather, ground circumstance or maintenance indicates a potential red flag, said Brandan Ezell, a PG&E supervisor.

“It keeps electrical generation going locally if the power has to be shut off elsewhere along the transmission line, so residents in the service area can still receive power,” he said.

William Roller is a staff writer for The Union. He can be reached at

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