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PG&E Program to Support ‘Vulnerable’ Customers During Public Safety Power Shutoffs

SAN FRANCISCO — As part of Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) commitment to safety and supporting customers and communities, the company will join with the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers (CFLIC) as it supports customers with disabilities and older customers who are most vulnerable when the power goes out.

Known as the Disability Disaster Access and Resources Program, the joint effort will aid the disability, aging and Access and Functional Needs (AFN) population ahead of a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS), when power is turned off during times of heightened wildfire risk.

The pilot disaster readiness program is being implemented by local Independent Living Centers associated with CFILC. The program will enable the local centers to provide qualifying customers who use electrical medical devices with access to backup portable batteries through a grant, lease-to-own or the FreedomTech low-interest financial loan program. Transportation resources, lodging and food, emergency planning, education and outreach about PG&E programs such as Medical Baseline also will be part of the program.

Applications for portable backup batteries will be available online and at Independent Living Centers across the state. Individuals who use life-sustaining electrical support will be the highest priority. Through the application process, the CFILC’s Disaster Resource Advisory Committee will make the ultimate determination about the distribution of resources. CFILC will administer all aspects of the program.

Coordination of resources takes time, so individuals are encouraged to engage with their local centers and formulate a plan long before a safety shutoff is imminent. Customers can find the location of Independent Living Centers by visiting www.cfilc.org/find-ilc. Hours of operation may be impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This program has the potential to shape the future of how individuals with disabilities and older adults are provided opportunities to engage in training and resources to better prepare all of us during times of emergencies and PSPS events. PG&E and CFILC believe it is critical to give people with disabilities who are at risk the tools and resources they need to be prepared in order to maintain their health and safety,” said Christina Mills, CFILC Executive Director.

CFILC serves as a membership association for most of the local Independent Living Centers across PG&E’s service area. They are grassroots organizations run by, and for people with disabilities, and they provide a variety of services to people across all types of disabilities and ages. Partnering with centers already working together to support the most vulnerable individuals in PG&E’s service area is one of the best ways to reach the disabled community during PSPS events or emergencies.

Turning off the power creates a hardship for all PG&E’s customers, and a PSPS can impact vulnerable customers dramatically. By working with and offering financial assistance to CFILC, PG&E can help alleviate some of the disruptive impacts and support the safety and wellness of these customers.

“The ability to successfully help our customers prepare before, during and after a Public Safety Power Shutoff or other events such as a wildfire will depend greatly on community partnerships and associations. At PG&E, we are extremely thankful for CFILC and all they do to provide assistance to Californians. They are uniquely positioned to support the AFN community by providing services and advocacy through their existing programs and campaigns,” said Laurie Giammona, PG&E’s Chief Customer Officer and a Senior Vice President.

Even before the official program was launched, PG&E and CFILC partnered to provide the AFN community with accessible transportation, lodging, backup batteries and other services during safety shutoffs in 2019.

During events in October and November, more than 1,100 individuals got some assistance from the CFLIC with the support of PG&E. That support includes providing more than 195 batteries for backup power and 217 hotel stays. Additionally, more than 20 customers were provided with accessible transportation to hotels and 122 food vouchers were provided. Many of the local Independent Living Centers provided charging for phones and electric devices.

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