California Governor Releases Utility Shut-off Prevention Grants

On Monday, March 29, Gavin Newsom, the Governor of California, announced that the state will distribute $50 million in Community Power Resiliency grants. Those grants will be administered by the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, which is also called Cal OES. The funds are designed to offer protection for local communities and California residents who are vulnerable from the impact of utility-initiated rolling blackouts and power shut-offs.

Why the Grant Funds Are Important

According to Governor Newsom, the state of California will continue to have man-made and natural disasters in 2021. The pandemic continues, too. These grant funds are part of the state's ongoing commitment to make sure that no California residents or business owners are left behind when any type of disaster strikes.

About This Round of Grant Funding

This $50 million grant allotment is the second round of public safety resiliency grants from Cal OES. The power shut-off resiliency grants have come through two of the state's consecutive budget cycles. These funds were supported both by the California legislature and the governor.

How the First Round of Grant Funding Worked

The first round of power shutoff resiliency grants was issued in fiscal year 2019 to 2020. The legislature approved Governor Newsom's proposal to allocate $75 million in resiliency grant funding to California's state agencies as well as cities, counties and tribal communities. For the past two fiscal budget cycles, counties received $39 million. Cities were awarded $23 million in grant funds. California's Native American tribes have received $4 million. Combined, California's state government agencies have received $37.5 million in grant funds to prevent power shut-offs. The state's special districts have received $20 million in power shut-off resiliency grants.

What the Second Round of Grant Funds Aims to Do

This round of grant funds is from the 2020 to 2021 state budget. The goal of the grant project is to maintain continuity of essential services that could be impacted by local or widespread power outages. Those services include public preschool to 12th grade education, county election offices, food storage reserves and sites for COVID-19 testing and vaccine administration. The funds will be sent to 225 recipients. A total of 58 counties, 51 incorporated cities, 96 special administrative districts and 20 federally recognized Native American tribes will receive the funds.

County-level Priorities of the Grant Funds

Governor Newsom's office stated that the grant allocations include $13 million for the 58 counties. Those funds must be used on four priority areas, including food storage reserves, election offices, public preschool to 12th grade schools and COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites. Counties have to spend at least 50% of their grant funds on those four priority areas.

City-level Priorities for Grant Funds

Governor Newsom also stated that the 51 cities receiving grant funds should also focus on the same four priority areas. Cities could apply for up to $300,000 in grant funds. California's cities are allotted $13 million in power shut-off resiliency grant funds.

Tribal and Special District Grant Allocations

According to Governor Newsom's office, California has allocated $2.5 million for the state's federally recognized tribes. Each tribe was allowed to apply for up to $150,000. The grants were awarded on a competitive basis. Special administrative districts were allotted $20 million from this round of grant funds. Those districts had to identify a critical facility or facilities or some other type of infrastructure according to the guidelines established by California's Public Utilities Commission. The funds were awarded on a competitive basis. Each special distract was allowed to apply for up to $300,000 in grant funds.

How the Grant Funds Will Help California's Small Business Owners

California's small business owners have been hit hard by the recent natural disasters. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated their problems. Many had to scramble in order to change their business models. These grants will help them against losses from food spoilage and other issues that result when the power goes out.

Ways These Grant Funds Will Help Residents of California

The combination of natural disasters, man-made disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic caused millions of California residents to lose their jobs. Many people face homelessness or already went through eviction or foreclosure. Those who didn't lose their jobs may still be in a precarious financial situation. Losing all of one's food or dealing with a closed school because of a power outage could be the straw that breaks their backs. These grants offer essential financial protection for Californians.

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