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Nevada City regulates generator installation

Nevada City residents looking to prepare for the next PG&E Public Safety Power Shut-off event will now have a process for installing stationary generators in their homes.

The Nevada City Council this month approved a process for permitting generator installations, which was previously unregulated and left the planning commission to approve installations on commercial and residential properties at an ad-hoc basis.

Now generators with 10,000 watts of power or less will be reviewed by city staff through a minor architectural review, generators between 10,000 and 20,000 watts will require an architectural review application review, and anything with greater power will require a conditional use permit.



According to the ordinance generator use will only be allowed, “during interruptions of electrical service from the distribution system or transmission grid due to circumstances beyond the operator’s control.”

Generators must be screened by fencing or landscaping if installed in a front yard setback of side street yard. The ordinance also regulated generators within the Historic District requiring screening if they are visible from public views.



Residents must also receive an electrical/plumbing permit from the county building department after getting city approval and before installation.

A Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District permit to operate is required prior to installing any diesel-fired generators with more than 50 horsepower.

“Last season a week-long generator situation is a lot different than two days so we’re hopeful that now with the new PSPS reality that they’re trying to limit the time (of a power outage) that people will not be as impacted,” Councilman Doug Fleming said at the meeting. “Depending where you live a generator right next door can be a nuisance, but I think everyone just has to take a breath and take a beat and say hey, this is unprecedented times and we need to be tolerant of our neighbors for a while and not jealous because they have one and we don’t.”

An ordinance adding an exception to noise standards for generator use during a PSPS event was also adopted by the council.

The ordinance does not apply to portable generators.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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