FOX40: Sen. Padilla visits California ISO facility as part of statewide tour to strengthen electric grid, prevent shutoffs

By Doug Johnson, Jordan Radach

Ahead of what could be a long, hot summer, Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla toured the California Independent System Operator facility in Folsom, which maintains the state’s power grid.

Tuesday’s stop was part of his statewide infrastructure listening tour during which the senator highlighted legislation to strengthen the state’s electric grid and help prevent public safety power shutoffs.

Andy Gillespie has owned Sierra Consignment Co. Antiques and More in Placerville for more than 30 years, but the last two summers, the lights have gone out because of public safety power shutoffs.

“If they’re going to start turning the power off again, it’s going to be a drag,” Gillespie said. “About two to three days in a row, sometimes overnight. And sometimes they said, ‘Oh, it’ll be back on on Sunday,’ and it won’t come back on until Tuesday.”

Those shutoffs have been hurting his business.

“It’s like they’re not programmed to go out and shop because of the power outage,” Gillespie told FOX40.

This summer, there could be even more shutoffs.

“I don’t know why they do it, but they should get out there and get everything fixed,” Gillespie said.

Sen. Padilla said he’s working with Congress to prevent power shutoffs from becoming the new normal.

“Part of the biggest challenges today is our change in weather, the weather patterns, which are directly the result of climate change,” he explained.

After touring the California ISO facility Tuesday, Sen. Padilla spoke about a bill he introduced in April called the Power On Act. The bipartisan legislation would assist electricity providers and suppliers with federal funding to improve the electric grid against heat waves, high winds and wildfires.

Padilla believes if passed, the bill would prevent the need for public safety power shutoffs.

“Smarter investment in smarter technology will help achieve multiple goals and objectives in resiliency and reliability,” he said.

But he does believe the federal government needs to do more to help businesses impacted by those shutoffs.

“Just as there was resources made available for businesses to weather the COVID-19 pandemic, we should be partnering with business owners to weather the impacts of climate change,” Padilla said.

It is help Gillespie said small businesses like his could definitely use, but he doubts he’ll ever see.

“Yeah, but they’re working on it. Just re-elect me, we’ll get it taken care of,” Gillespie said.

Sen. Padilla believes there may not be as many power shutoffs this summer as in years past due to smarter technology allowing power companies to cut the power to smaller areas instead of whole cities.

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