The Tubbs Fire damaged over 500 of the City’s 16,000+ street lights. City staff has been working closely with PG&E to re-energize street lights where electrical infrastructure is intact or as it is rebuilt. Where the infrastructure is not intact, the City has established a phased recovery prioritization process to rebuild, re-energize and where necessary, to redesign the system.
In Hidden Valley, there are less than a dozen remaining street lights where City staff is completing the conduit connection to service points. Once the connections are complete, PG&E can re-energize all repaired street lights in this neighborhood and remove temporary light poles.
In Coffey Park, the street light infrastructure system design is nearly complete, at which time the project will begin a four-week bid process, as per FEMA requirements. Good news is that staff proactively purchased the cobra-head style foundation base poles and fixtures and they are currently on-hand in the Corporation Yard. Street light replacement projects are not weather dependent, which means the new street light infrastructure system installation can begin as soon as the contract allows without waiting additional months for the poles. Once completed, PG&E will re-energize the system and remove temporary light poles.
In Fountaingrove, all wood pole street lights were destroyed and will be replaced with a similar metal pole version. Replacement of the wood pole street lights are currently in design phase followed by request for bids. The decorative poles in Fountaingrove require two globe styles, one style we have in stock the other style is on order. City crews are replacing the globes we have on hand and rewiring remaining poles. City staff is working with PG&E to re-energize street lights as groups of lights are repaired or rebuilt.
Street Light Recovery
Over 500 city-owned street lights were damaged during the Tubbs Fire. Staff has been working closely with PG&E to re-energize both individual and groups of streetlights when requested by residents and where possible, due to confirmation that the electrical infrastructure is intact. Where the infrastructure is not intact, the City has established a phased recovery prioritization process to rebuild, re-energize, and where necessary, to redesign the system.
Post-fire recovery prioritization has been strategically assessed based on immediate need for citizen’s health and safety. Restoring water quality to the affected advisory area was assessed as the highest priority, and the City worked closely with State and Federal regulatory agencies for a year to replace the damaged water delivery system, lifting the water quality advisory in the fire-impacted Fountaingrove neighborhoods on October 11, 2018.
Beginning in the Summer of 2018, and due to the significant number of rebuilding permits issued in the Coffey Park neighborhood, staff began coordinating closely with PG&E working to rebuild and redesign the street light service connections to ensure that street lighting is restored as residents begin to move back into their rebuilt homes. Since PG&E needed to replace their entire underground system, they installed overhead poles with street lights to provide service to the properties in the rebuild process. During the initial phase of the street light recovery project, PG&E severed a majority of the existing street light service connections in the Coffey Park area. City staff worked with PG&E to rectify the service point connections; however, follow-up inspections found many missing street light service points and missing conduit, allowing for only a small percentage of street lights to be energized. Once the City has completed restoring service connections and replacing damaged street light hardware, PG&E will then begin removing the temporary overhead lights. This work is well underway.
PG&E has now begun working in both the Fountaingrove and Hidden Valley neighborhoods to replace and repair their damaged infrastructure. This has allowed City staff to conduct a detailed investigation of damaged service lines and equipment, which wrapped up early April. That investigation provided staff with a clear understanding of the level of damage caused to the underground electrical system as well as the poles, fixtures and globes. With this information, staff has begun working to restore groups of street lights where the underground infrastructure is intact. In many cases, PG&E has de-energized service lines throughout Fountaingrove due lack of activity on many lots and over the past year they have been working with the City on a case-by-case basis to energize individual street lights. Based on the recent investigation, PG&E and the City will be able to restore more street lights in the Fountaingrove and Hidden Valley neighborhoods in the coming weeks, with crews restoring 45 street lights this week; 15 having been repaired and energized in Fountaingrove and 30 repaired in Hidden Valley awaiting PG&E to energize the service lines.
Due to the significant number of disasters nationwide that resulted in damaged street lights and recent tariffs placed on steel, delivery time for new street light poles is exceeding 16 weeks. Staff proactively purchased over 200 cobra-head style poles and fixtures in November that arrived into the Corporation Yard last week. A majority of these are scheduled to be installed in Coffey Park with the others slated for areas in Fountaingrove and Hidden Valley that had these pole and fixture types. The City will not be reinstalling wood pole carriage lights due to their susceptibility of burning during an urban wildfire. Therefore, staff has identified and selected a metallic version of the carriage light in an effort to balance improving long term durability with the original aesthetic of the community. New fixtures and globes are currently on order for the post-top style fixtures that are located throughout most of Fountaingrove. Staff is utilizing existing stock to address as many of those locations where the underground infrastructure is still intact. Based on the anticipated material delivery timelines and aside from those areas that had wooden street light poles, we anticipate being able to restore a majority of the damaged street lights by Fall of this year.
A key component of this work has been the coordination and project development with CalOES and FEMA. While the project description was easily determined, the financing authority and eligible FEMA reimbursement has been extremely complicated and is still outstanding.
Residents may request a street light be evaluated for viable re-energization by contacting the City Street Light Hotline 707-543-4305. For accuracy and efficiency, when reporting an outage, it is recommended that the street light pole number located on the front of the pole facing the street be provided.