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County accepts solar panel and generator for Fallbrook library

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

Donations to the County of San Diego which exceed $5,000 in value must be approved by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, and the Oct. 24 Board of Supervisors meeting included acceptance of backup electrical power equipment at three County Library branches including the Fallbrook branch.

The 4-0 vote, with one vacant seat, accepts the San Diego Gas & Electric donation of onsite solar panels, batteries to power the solar panels which are sized to provide back-up power for approximately four to eight hours, and generators designed to provide longer term back-up power for the Fallbrook, Ramona, and Valley Center branch libraries.

SDG&E will design, permit, and construct those improvements and will provide a pre-paid five-year maintenance plan for the batteries and potentially the solar panels. The donations are part of SDG&E’s Wildfire Mitigation Plan, and SDG&E may expand its program to additional sites in the future.

The Wildfire Mitigation Plan includes a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) procedure which shuts off electrical power to reduce the risk of a wildfire from a downed electrical transmission line. In 2020, SDG&E initiated the utility’s Fixed Back-up Power Program as an element of the Wildfire Mitigation Plan. The Fixed Back-up Power Program is designed to serve residential and commercial customers within backcountry high fire threat areas by installing back-up power equipment to mitigate impacts from local PSPS events.

The Fallbrook, Ramona, and Valley Center library branches are also considered Community Resource Center sites which are potential sites for planning, evacuation, Internet access, and electronics charging.

The back-up power will ensure that those sites remain functional for multiple days in the event of a PSPS or other catastrophic event. The power sources will also provide “cool zones” for the public in case of excessive heat which may cause electricity usage to exceed distribution capacity.

After the equipment has been installed, the ownership will be transferred to the county as will the pre-paid five-year maintenance plan. Once the five-year period ends, maintenance will be performed by existing County of San Diego staff and resources, so no additional funding will be required.

The generator will be fueled by either natural gas or diesel. The approximate value of the SDG&E equipment donation to the three libraries is $900,000.

The value of any future equipment donations is unknown at this time. The supervisors’ Oct. 24 action also included delegating acceptance of future Wildfire Mitigation Plan donations to the director of the county’s Department of General Services.

Acceptance of any future energy-related equipment donations from SDG&E would be included in the semi-annual report of gifts and donations totaling over $5,000, which is ratified by Board of Supervisors approval.

 

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