California County lacks power crisis contingencies : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

County lacks power crisis contingencies

4/24/01 By SCOTT HADLY


Cross your fingers if the lights go out this summer.

A Santa Barbara County Grand Jury report issued Monday found deficiencies in the emergency backup power systems that supply several fire and police stations and other important facilities in the county.

While there are backup power generators for the 35 facilities in the county inspected by the Grand Jury, the report states that several problems exist. The report is a follow-up on a study last year by the previous Grand Jury.

In Solvang, in the City Hall complex that houses a fire station and city communication center, the emergency backup generator may take up to 20 minutes to start up. Delays were also found in starting up the emergency power at a fire station in Montecito, and jury members found numerous electrical code violations at other stations.

The code violations and other structural problems were so bad at a fire station in Summerland that it should be torn down and rebuilt, according to the report.

At another station in Carpinteria, firefighters depend on a flimsy extension cord strung through attic space to a portable generator to supply emergency power.

"Emergency power is needed to run the county's Emergency Operations Center, emergency dispatch centers, police and fire facilities, public works operations and water and sewer plants," according to the report.

"Without backup power, government agencies might simply shut down."

During the inspection of the Santa Barbara police station, the power actually went out, the jury report says. Inspectors found that the generators for both the 9-1-1 dispatch and the main station worked well, but that the station needed better lighting, among other things.

The county's civil Grand Jury is made up of 19 county residents who are appointed each year to investigate the function of government and make recommendations for improvements. Each year the watchdog panel issues a series of reports of their findings making recommendations for improvements.

This year's Grand Jury foreman is William L. Cathey, a retired attorney from Santa Ynez.

Twelve reports were produced by last year's panel, the same number produced by the previous jury.

People who want to tell the Grand Jury about a concern or complaint they think deserves investigation can contact the jurors by phone, mail, fax or e-mail.

The Grand Jury's phone number is 568-2291; fax is 568-3301; the mailing address is 1100 Anacapa St., Santa Barbara 93101; and its e-mail is

The jury's Web site,, lists its reports for the last six years and the responses from affected agencies.

-- Martin Thompson (, April 24, 2001

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