Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) events may strike the Auburn area again 2020, but this year, the Auburn Police Department looks to stay powered up thanks to circuit switching and help from Pioneer Community Energy (Pioneer).
“Last year’s PSPS outages were extraordinarily difficult for our community,” said Cheryl Maki, Auburn City Councilwoman. “When the 2019 PSPS events occurred, our City Hall had power, but right next door our Police Department did not. Old town Auburn had power, but downtown Auburn did not. Even our local radio station KAHI did not have power to communicate any emergency information.”
Pioneer, the locally governed electric generation provider, heard Maki’s concerns about the Police Department and began looking for possible solutions in late 2019. Chuck Heisleman, Key Accounts Representative for Pioneer, investigated how the Auburn City Hall and Police Department were served by the electric grid. He reviewed old streetscape plans and contacted PG&E, which manages the electric grid, to ask questions about the circuits that fed the city buildings. Heisleman suggested PG&E move the Police Department over to the same circuit that fed City Hall, so the Police Department could be powered if City Hall is powered.
For Maki, having the Police Department operational is good news. Auburn saves the expense of operating generators at the Police Department and can redirect those resources to other critical needs like responding to COVID-19.
“I am personally very grateful to Chuck Heisleman and Pioneer Community Energy for all of their work for our community,” said Maki. “PG&E would have never listened to our concerns without their [Pioneer’s] help.”