Anticipation of Future Power Outages

Jun 11, 2019, 6:21 PM


Dear Campus Colleagues,

The main Saint Mary's campus experienced a PG&E power outage at approximately 2:45 p.m. today which lasted for approximately 45 minutes.  It appears that the Rheem campus did maintain power for the duration of the outage. 

The California Independent Systems Operator (ISO) has called for a Flex Alert between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. tonight meaning that our area is asked to reduce and conserve power to avoid overloading the power grid.  If we exceed the capacity, there may be another power outage this evening.  Where possible for business, classes or events, please prepare for a possible outage.


We anticipate that for the upcoming weeks and months of summer,  we will likely experience additional power outages.  We have seen that the average outage due to high heat and high energy demand could range between 2 to 8 hours.  Alternatively, if we have an threat due to anticipated or actual fire danger in the area, PG&E could preventatively shut down power for a longer period of time.

To prepare for the likely power outages this summer, the Incident Management Team wanted to share this protocol that we would likely follow.

  • If we have a power outage due to high temperatures and high energy demand and that is anticipated to last at most between 6 to 8 hours, we will communicate that information to the campus community and share the anticipated duration.  
  • Depending on the time of day and heat, supervisors and managers would be asked to use their discretion as to whether to release non-essential staff while maintaining mission critical functions and remaining open for reduced business.  
  • Additionally, academic leadership would be asked to use their discretion to initiate alternate means to deliver classes if their classroom circumstances warrant it (given the loss of power, limited use of technology, or high heat).  
  • We will also, through partnership with Sodexo, set-up a cooling station in Dryden Hall with cold water available.  
  • Please be reminded that when there is a power loss in your building, VOIP phones (those formerly known as landlines on your desk and/or currently operated through your computer) will not be operating although they will be accepting voicemail.  [Emergency phones in elevators should remain operational.]  Please discuss with your colleagues how you will plan to make contact with them to confirm status of the office during the outage or status of classes and events during the outage.  This could include establishing a phone tree or a cell phone contact list.
  • The Incident Management Team will be sending out Live Safe alerts as we get credible information or direction on available resources for the campus during a fixed-time power outage.
  • For outages that are expected to run for a longer period of time beyond a high demand or high heat period (i.e. pre-emptive outage during a local fire event) and in excess of a 6 to 8 hour period, we will initiate actions to provide temporary power in key locations (e.g. Alioto Recreation Center) to provide extended support for residential community members or alternate work locations for mission critical functions.  Depending on the anticipated duration, we will further consider office closure or class alternatives or cancellation.  
  • To personally prepare for any level of power loss or major incident, please take time now to prepare your personal support or "Bug Out Bag" that includes essential resources for your personal use.

We ask that all managers, supervisors, academic leadership work through a plan now to continue to provide mission critical services  during anticipated power outages.  Please discuss with your Vice President or Vice Provost your business continuity plans and don't hesitate to let me or the Incident Management Team know how we might be of assistance.

Jane Camarillo
Incident Management Team

Jane Camarillo, Ph.D.
Vice Provost for Student Life
Saint Mary’s College of California