Disaster Response and Mutual Aid

SMUD restores power to customers in wake of major rain storm

With help via mutual aid agreements, California public power utility Sacramento Municipal Utility District recently restored power to about 190,000 customers overall after a major storm hit northern California.

With winds as high as 49 miles per hour, a rain storm that started Jan. 6 knocked out power to about 100,000 people at one time in SMUD’s service territory, which is home to about 1.5 million people.

“It was all hands-on deck for our crews working through the storm,” Lindsay VanLaningham, a utility spokeswoman, said.

Roseville Electric and Western Area Power Administration crews helped restore power, according to VanLaningham.

During the storm events, SMUD utilized its social media channels to provide updates on the restoration work. For example, in a Jan. 7 tweet, the utility said “Thanks for your patience as our crews work to restore your power. It’s been all hands on deck as crews have repaired damaged equipment. We have restored power for more than 100,000 customers but are still working to restore the remaining 3,700 customers.” In some of its tweets, SMUD also included a link to an outage update webpage on its website.

California utilities provide help to each other through the California Utilities Emergency Association, which was set up in 1952. The group includes most electric, natural gas, water, wastewater and telecommunications utilities in the state.

Public power assisted in response to summer wildfires

This past summer, public power utilities in the West responded to California wildfires through state and regional mutual aid programs, assisting not only fellow public power utilities, but also investor-owned utilities.

The Carr Fire directly affected Redding Electric Utility (REU), a public power utility in northern California.

In response to the fire, REU put out a call for mutual aid from other utilities.

Mutual aid exercise tackles scenario involving major Calif. flooding

Meanwhile, in late October, the American Public Power Association held a public power mutual aid exercise in which participants role played a scenario that involved significant flooding in several California cities.

Representatives from more than 30 public power utilities and joint action and state associations participated in the Association’s Mutual Aid Working Group (MAWG) national event, which was held in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power served as the host for the exercise and provided significant logistical support.

The exercise was funded by a cooperative agreement with the Department of Energy.