Holy Rose, California – September 30, 2021 – Strengthening its ability to provide essential services to the public in an emergency, Sonoma County has completed the first phase of an initiative to install 13 large generators at major evacuation centers and other important public facilities.
The County General Service Department and District 3 Supervisor Chris Coursey marked the completion of the initiative’s first step with a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building. The event celebrated the recently completed installation of a 100 kilowatt generator to supply the county’s largest evacuation center with electricity during blackouts.
Earlier this year, the Department of General Services installed 80-kilowatt generators in veterans’ wards in Petaluma and Sonoma. Along with the Veterans Hall in Santa Rosa, the three facilities play a vital role in providing shelter, electricity, internet access and other services to the public in an emergency.
A barrage of fires, power outages and flooding in Sonoma County over the past five years has underscored the need for permanent generators integrated into key facilities.. Mobile generators are often scarce in an emergency, prompting Sonoma County to source permanent generators to ensure it can provide reliable, uninterrupted electricity to high-priority public facilities.
“Evacuation centers, like the Veterans Memorial Building, provide safe havens for the public in an emergency. We made this strategic investment to make sure they can keep the lights on during blackouts, ”said supervisor David Rabbitt, who presided over the unveiling of a new generator completed last week in the lobby. veterans of Petaluma.
As part of the initiative’s $ 1.5 million first step, the county purchased permanent generators and made electrical upgrades and other vital upgrades to veterans buildings in Santa Rosa, Petaluma. and Sonoma, which are designated emergency evacuation centers. These buildings, which were constructed after World War II, also serve as important hubs for the county’s veterans, providing a place of fellowship, support and awareness.
The county also installed a permanent generator in its transportation and public works yard in Santa Rosa during the initial phase. Future projects are expected to bring generators to the Veterans Hall in Cloverdale and eight other facilities across the county. They include the seat of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office; the passenger terminal at Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport; county transportation and public works yards in Forestville and Annapolis; two departmental information systems offices; the offices of the county clerk-archivist-assessor; and the Heavy Fleet Division of the County General Service Department, which provides essential disaster support services. The board of supervisors approved more than $ 5 million in funding for four of the eight projects, including nearly $ 3 million to replace the aging generator that supplies the sheriff’s office and the 911 dispatch center with back-up power. The new 750-kilowatt generator, almost twice the size of the existing generator, will be able to provide electricity to the entire Sheriff’s Office during peak periods. The General Services Department works out the costs and identifies the funding for the remaining four projects.
The Department of General Services is actively seeking funding for the initiative through various Disaster and Resilience Grants, including Federal Risk Mitigation Assistance Grants and other funding through the Federal Disaster Management Agency. emergencies, as well as through the general county fund.
Diesel generators have been installed in veterans’ buildings as a first step towards grid independence and reliable back-up power in an emergency, said Caroline Judy, director of the Department of General Services. However, she notes that the county is actively seeking cleaner and more environmentally friendly backup power sources and is evaluating the possibilities of using greener fuel cells or solar / battery backup systems as alternatives to generators. diesel. Other installations, such as communication towers, may be more appropriate for certain applications, in particular for fuel cells of the Proton Membrane Exchange type.
“Technological advancements and legislative support for green resilience have advanced significantly since 2017,” said Judy. “We are very committed to meeting the climate action goals of the county’s five-year strategic plan, which will put us on track to become carbon neutral by 2030.”