MENDOCINO CO., 10/26/17 -- The Potter Valley Volunteer Fire Department will receive a $25,000 donation from PG&E as part of the three million dollars that the company has pledged to give to community groups in the counties impacted by the recent fires. So far the company has announced donations to community groups and non-profits in Sonoma county, including gifts to a Sonoma firefighting troop, a community center, and the North Bay Fire Relief Fund.
PG&E also announced that the company has completed the repair and restoration of all equipment damaged in the Mendocino-Lake Complex fires as of this past Sunday. The work, undertaken by more than 500 people, included restoring services to around 3,700 gas customers and 8,200 electric customers in Mendocino and Lake Counties, along with more than 300 poles (60 in Lake County) and 75 transformers (13 in Lake County).
The donation to the volunteer firefighters in Potter Valley came after a visit to the fire station by the PG&E Chief Operating Officer and President Nick Stavropoulos, according to a press release issued Wednesday. The donation will provide half of the department's annual budget and allow the firefighters to upgrade equipment and increase training. Stavropoulos noted that firefighters worked hard to save crucial facilities for the Potter Valley Hydroelectric Project, which provides drinking water and and irrigation for Potter Valley farms, and also was an important water source for the firefighting efforts.
The following is from the company's press release:
"Stavropoulos said PG&E’s donation was in appreciation for the quick actions by the fire department during recent fires. Their efforts not only prevented the loss of life but also prevented many structures from burning, including facilities related to PG&E’s Potter Valley Hydroelectric Project.
“We were very surprised! Whoever thinks that somebody is going to be that generous? It’s a lot of money to our department. It’s half the budget for a year because we don’t operate on salaries. The significance of that is monumental as we continue to improve our equipment and training. The training is what’s really important to us,” said Fire Chief Pauli.
The night of Oct. 10, flames from the Mendocino Complex Fires were just 20 yards away from the hydro facility’s upper penstock, or penstock #1, which is more than 100 years old and made of redwood.
The penstocks move the water from the Eel River to the powerhouse turbines, creating the East Branch of the Russian River. If the fire would’ve destroyed the penstock, this water diversion would have been shut down, hindering overall firefighting efforts because the water from the Russian River was being used to fight the flames. The community also relies on the surrounding water from the Potter Valley Irrigation District for its drinking water and for irrigation for farming.
PG&E has created a new website, www.pgecommitment.com, so that customers in the affected fire areas can track the company’s restoration and recovery efforts, along with videos and articles."