By Paul Moreno
PG&E today (Sept.1) said it fully supports the state of California’s commitment to bolster dam safety and remains strongly focused on meeting all state and federal requirements concerning dam safety and integrity.
“The safety of the public and our employees is our highest value at PG&E. That’s why we take dam safety and integrity very seriously and ensure that appropriate measures are taken to protect the communities we serve, such as ongoing dam inspections, continually monitoring conditions, holding emergency exercises with local agencies and raising public awareness. If any urgent safety issues are identified, immediate action is taken such as reducing water levels in dams to mitigate the risk,” said Debbie Powell, a senior director of power generation at PG&E.
PG&E owns 169 dams, some of which retain storage reservoirs and many of which are small, in-stream structures that divert water to off-stream powerhouses. Ninety-four of PG&E’s dams have characteristics qualifying them to be under the jurisdiction of the Division of Safety of Dams (DSOD), a division of the state Department of Water Resources.
In addition to annual Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, DSOD and PG&E inspections and regular patrols, PG&E also holds exercises with local, state and federal agencies for dams with emergency action plans (EAPs). Each county Office of Emergency Services (OES) develops and maintains plans on how to alert the public and implement evacuations in case of threat.
PG&E meets all existing regulatory requirements with robust EAPs and the new DSOD requirements are mostly addressed by existing plans. PG&E will promptly address enhancements as a result of new DSOD requirements.
“We have considerable experience in developing and continuously improving EAPs and have worked closely with local, state and federal agencies to implement them. Our experience with EAPs means we expect to develop the newly required EAPs within the deadlines. In most cases, we’ve already worked many years with the same county OESs to develop and exercise plans for other dams,” said Powell.
Today, DSOD also released information on dams within its jurisdiction, including downstream hazard classification, condition assessment, and status of any storage restrictions.
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