ACWA Engages at Senate Hearing on Power Shutoffs

  • by Caroline Minasian
  • Nov 20, 2019
  • Water News

On Nov. 18, the California Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications held a hearing to discuss the effects of electric utility power shutoffs. The hearing was scheduled in light of the unprecedented number of Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events that occurred during the month of October, leaving some areas without power for over a week.

In advance of the hearing, ACWA engaged with legislative members and staff to highlight the significant impact of PSPS events on water and wastewater agencies. ACWA formed a PSPS Work Group comprised of 28 member agencies throughout the state in response to the recent shutoffs. The PSPS Work Group has provided valuable insight into the on-the-ground challenges water agencies throughout the state are facing in trying to provide continuous service to customers during multi-day power outages.

During the Senate hearing, several panels, including investor-owned utilities, state agencies, business owners, schools, local governments and other utilities including Las Virgenes Municipal Water District (LVMWD) discussed the impacts of recent PSPS events.

LVMWD General Manager David Pedersen testified on the challenges that his agency and other water and wastewater agencies faced during the recent round of PSPS events that took place in October. Pedersen said that during these shutoffs, the goal of water and wastewater agencies is to maintain continuous supply to all their customers for health and safety purposes that include cooking, cleaning, sanitation and fire protection. He also outlined the significant challenges agencies face in meeting that goal that include the following areas:

  • Communications: The amount of notice provided for de- and re-energization has been a concern for many agencies who would like to see enhanced and/or standardized protocols to ensure that the information is clear and consistent.
  • Operations: There are numerous challenges associated with backup generators including refueling, runtime restrictions and failures.
  • Finances: Agencies face multiple financial challenges associated with operating costs, staff working overtime, equipment rentals and fuel purchases. Also, many water and wastewater districts are independent special districts and ineligible for recent funding from the Governor’s Budget totaling $75 million to mitigate impacts of shutoffs.

Pedersen concluded by emphasizing the fact that PSPS events are not the long-term solution to reduce the threat of wildfires. Many others shared this sentiment as Senator Nielsen said, “The new normal cannot be PSPS.”

ACWA Director of State Legislative Relations, Adam Quiñonez also provided public comment at the hearing, underscoring the impact of PSPS events on water agencies and offering ACWA’s support as the California Legislature seeks to adopt solutions that mitigate the impacts of shutoffs going forward.

Other testimonies throughout the day focused on improving notifications to impacted communities, the magnitude of collaboration taking place between state agencies and the impact on Californians. Solutions discussed included expediting grid hardening, integrating new technologies, better pinpointing outages and developing comprehensive community response plans. The day ended with plans for a follow-up hearing that will focus on electric utility infrastructure issues.

ACWA staff will continue to meet with legislators on this issue and continue to engage with member agencies through the PSPS Work Group to coordinate solutions to mitigate the unintended consequences of shutoffs. ACWA’s State Legislative Committee also recently reviewed two proposals related to wildfire. The first addresses the challenges with generator runtimes during PSPS events and the second is a proposal for water agency coordination on emergency planning.

Member agencies can direct questions to ACWA Senior Legislative Advocate Julia Hall at or ACWA Senior Regulatory Advocate Chelsea Haines at

Suggested Resources

15 RESOURCES prev next
Priority Issues Bulletin

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

ACWA and CMUA Lead Service Line Inventory Webinar Materials

On Dec. 17, in cooperation with the State Water Resource Control Board’s Division of Drinking Water, ACWA and CMUA hosted […]

Comment Letter: ACWA and CMUA Comment on Proposed ELAP Regulations

Agencies: ACWA and California Municipal Utilities Association (CMUA) Subject: Comments on Proposed Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELAP) Regulations Description: ACWA and […]

Coalition Letter on Strategic Plan to Protect CA’s Coast and Ocean

Associations: Association of California Water Agencies, California Association of Sanitation Agencies, California Municipal Utilities Association, Bay Area Clean Water Agencies, […]

2020 ACWA Scholarship Toolkit

To assist  members in promoting available ACWA scholarship opportunities, the association has updated its Scholarship Toolkit for the 2020-’21 academic […]

ACWA 2019 Fall Conference Presentations

Presentations from ACWA’s 2019 Fall Conference & Exhibition held Dec. 3-6 in San Diego are available below. Please note that […]

ACWA’S 2019 Fall Legal Briefing and CLE Workshop Materials

The following presentations and materials for ACWA’s 2019 Legal Briefing and CLE Workshop on Dec. 3 from 9 a.m. to […]

Outreach Handbook

ACWA’s Outreach Handbook is a valuable tool for engaging legislators, key regulators and administration officials on policy issues that are […]

Groundwater Replenishment Framework

The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) has prepared A Technical Framework for Increasing Groundwater Replenishment in response to a […]

Federal Legislative Matrix

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Federal Regulatory Issues Chart

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Comment Letter: ACWA and CMUA Comment on OEHHA Draft Report

Agencies: ACWA and California Municipal Utilities Association (CMUA) Subject: Comments on the Public Review Draft Mapping Tool and Draft Report, Achieving […]

2019 Summary of Legislation

ACWA’s 2019 Summary of Legislation provides concise information on legislation enacted in the first year of the 2019-’20 legislative session that […]

ACWA’s 2019 Regulatory Summit Materials

Water managers and water quality specialists attended the ninth annual ACWA Regulatory Summit on Oct. 17 to learn about the […]

Coalition Letter on Water Loss Regulations

Agency: ACWA, CMUA and various water agencies Subject: Comments on the Development of Water Loss Performance Standards and Economic Model […]

Suggested News

15 Articles prev next
ACWA New for Jan. 17, 2020

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Capitalizing on ACWA Capital Events

Nothing gets your point across quite like making it in person.  Consider the members of the state legislative and congressional […]

Spotlight: New Habitat Restoration – January 2020

New Habitat Restoration Project Nurtures Record Number of Salmon Nests on American River Kat Perkins, a scientist with the Sacramento […]

Prepare for Emergencies, Get Free Supplies for Kits at Let’s Talk H2O! with PWD

PALMDALE – To help community members prepare for emergencies, Palmdale Water District (PWD) will provide information and FREE supplies to […]

TUD Awarded Steel Tank of the Year

The Steel Tank Institute (STI)/Steel Plate Fabricators Association (SPFA) awarded the Tuolumne Utilities District’s (TUD or District) Jamestown Water Tank […]

West Valley Water District Announces Channing Hawkins as Board President

RIALTO – Please join us in welcoming our new President of West Valley Water District Board of Directors, Channing Hawkins. […]

Governor Releases Proposed 2020-’21 State Budget

Gov. Gavin Newsom released his proposed Fiscal Year 2020-’21 budget Jan. 10 for the State of California, calling for $222 […]

January Priority Issues Update Available to Members

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Community Members Learn About Their Water Supply at WVWD Open House

WALNUT – On Saturday, January 11 community members from Diamond Bar, Walnut, West Covina, Rowland Heights, and Pomona attended Walnut […]

NID Directors Select New Board President and Vice President

Nevada Irrigation District (NID) Directors have selected their new officers for 2020. Ricki Heck will serve as board president, and […]

Rancho California Appoints Board President and Vice President

The Board of Directors at Rancho California Water District have appointed Bill Wilson to serve as board president for 2020. […]

ACWA 2020-’21 Region Board Vacancies

ACWA is currently looking for members to fill three Region Board Member positions. Members interested in leading the direction of […]

Western Employees Start 2020 Thriving and Healthy

RIVERSIDE – Western Municipal Water District received two workplace honors in 2019, combining physically healthy employees with a thriving work […]

New Habitat Restoration Project Nurtures Record Number of Salmon Nests

Kat Perkins, a scientist with the Sacramento Water Forum, poured over an aerial image of the lower American River near […]

Mesa Water District Announces Passing of Former Board Members

COSTA MESA — It is with great sadness that Mesa Water District (Mesa Water®) announces the passing of former Board members R. […]