Electrical Outlet

County Supervisors response to PG&E power shutoffs

AUBURN, Calif. – Permit fees to electrically connect portable and permanent generators to residences will be suspended until July 2020 with the Placer County Board of Supervisors approving the measure to make it easier and safer for residents to withstand power shutoffs.

District 5 Supervisor Cindy Gustafson’s office received correspondence expressing concern that permit and installation costs might discourage others from installing generators properly, a sentiment echoed during public comment at a board meeting last month.

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Fees for an electrical permit to connect portable or permanent residential generators to existing electrical services are currently $275.23.

“This is an excellent demonstration of a resident providing input and the county taking swift action to implement positive change,” said District 5 Supervisor Cindy Gustafson. “I hope more people are encouraged to step forward with their ideas and feedback. We are listening.”

Spike in permit applications

Placer County Building Services has seen a spike in back-up generator permit applications in the past 60 days from residents in the unincorporated area of the county due to the recent public safety power shutoff events.

Residential property owners have installed back-up power generator systems to energize refrigeration and freezer equipment, medical devices, communication systems and other necessary systems during power shutoffs.

While many residents continue to obtain the necessary building permits to ensure safe interconnection of the back-up system, others have installed unpermitted systems, Building Services reported – which may pose substantial fire and electrical hazard risks if they aren’t installed to current building standards.

Failure to maintain operating generators a minimum distance from openable windows and doors could result in carbon monoxide poisoning.

Improper installation risks

“Improper installation of a back-up generator can bring serious life safety consequences such as electric shock, carbon monoxide poisoning, electrocution or fire,” said Building Services Deputy Director Tim Wegner. “Our staff is standing by to help ensure proper safety measures and building codes are met.”

The power shutoffs have required many homeowners to bear unforeseen and burdensome costs associated with purchasing and installing back-up generator systems.

In light of these high costs, the additional permit fees may deter some owners from applying for the necessary safety permit. Suspending permit fees for the remainder of the fiscal year for residential generator connections is designed to encourage homeowners to obtain the necessary permits in an effort to reduce risks associated with connecting back-up power.

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