By Tracy Correa
SAN LUIS OBISPO – With a $75,000 donation from PG&E today (Jan. 30), San Luis Obispo County may be well on its way to becoming one of the nation’s most prepared counties in the event of a disaster.
At a joint news conference, PG&E officials and San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson announced the formation of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Task Force on Public Safety with the utility’s donation to the Sheriff’s Advisory Foundation.
The goal of the task force will be to raise public awareness and increase collaboration and communication in hopes of establishing San Luis Obispo County as the most prepared county in the country when it comes to disaster preparedness and response.
Greg Pruett, PG&E’s senior vice president of corporate affairs, announced the utility’s financial contribution at the PG&E Joint Information Center in San Luis Obispo noting the utility’s commitment to emergency preparedness.
Pruett talked about starting his PG&E career working in San Luis Obispo and Diablo Canyon Power Plant. He said PG&E is committed to helping out when disaster strikes, just as the utility recently did when it sent hundreds of workers, crews and equipment to New York following Hurricane Sandy. (Click here to read about PG&E’s efforts as reported on Currents.)
“You can really be proud of the effort you are making here and in the future,” Pruett said to Sheriff Parkinson on the formation of the task force. “I’m really honored to present $75,000 to support this effort.”
Sheriff’s office to lead
With the sheriff’s office taking the lead, the task force will include representatives from cities within the county, as well as PG&E and organizations such as American Red Cross and San Luis Obispo Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD). It also will include media partners with the goal of fostering outreach plans and raising awareness about emergency preparedness.
Parkinson said the county can never be too prepared and the task force will help improve the combined efforts of the various agencies that work together. “It’s a collaboration. There’s no one person more important than the other,” he said. “This task force is made possible by this $75,000 from PG&E.”
PG&E’s Ed Halpin, chief nuclear officer at Diablo Canyon Power Plant and a company senior vice president, spoke of PG&E’s commitment to safety at the power plant as well as the entire county. He said the task force will allow people to come together for the benefit of the county’s residents.
Diablo Canyon Power Plant employees benefit
Pruett and Halpin both noted that PG&E employees live and work in San Luis Obispo County. “So, when we talk about the public and public safety, this includes 1,400 PG&E employees,” said Pruett.
Last year, San Luis Obispo County’s grand jury commended PG&E for helping to coordinate emergency response in the county. The independent watchdog group gave special credit to procedures in place because of PG&E’s Diablo Canyon Power Plant. But it also noted there was room for improvement and that residents need to be better educated on emergency preparedness.
PG&E has a longstanding commitment to emergency preparedness.
In San Luis Obispo last March, PG&E held the first-ever Preparedness Expo attracting more than 1,000 people. The utility also provided a $25,000 grant to Listos, a grassroots disaster preparedness program that targets Spanish-speaking communities.
Email Tracy Correa at email@example.com.