Public/Private Partnership Benefits Tulare County Agriculture

December 13, 2011

Tulare County’s agriculture community has a tool to use to keep their farms running when an electrical outage occurs during extreme weather conditions or other unforeseen incidents. 

The Electrical Agriculture Wind Machine/Ag-Well Emergency Program provides a 24-hour, on-call service to farmers – Southern California Edison (SCE) and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) customers – when an electrical outage occurs. The program is a partnership between the two utility companies and the Tulare County Resource Management Agency’s (RMA) Building Department, who issues the appropriate electrical permits when an outage occurs.

- Owner or contractor calls 1-877-770-2960 for SCE or 1-800-743-5000 for PG&E.
- RMA staff is contacted by utility and receives outage information.
- RMA staff contacts owner or contractor to visit site location and approves an inspection to release power.
- Owner or contractor applies for an Electrical Building Permit within two working days of the electrical reconnection.

Tulare County Farm Bureau Executive Director Patricia Stever-Blattler said the agriculture community is appreciative of the County’s efforts to implement this new emergency response service program.

“Agriculture depends on many factors, and when weather or unforeseen circumstances disrupt power to critical agricultural equipment like pumps or wind machines, it is important for farmers to have access to emergency response services and be able to get service re-connected in real time,” Stever-Blattler said. “In the winter months in particular with frost conditions so volatile, having the ability for a grower to access the County’s inspection services and re-establish service on a wind machine or pump could be the difference in saving the crop and potentially protecting tens of thousands of dollars in crop investments and farm income.”

Tulare County Supervisor Phil Cox said the program extends beyond extreme weather conditions.

“This type of service may be critical for the protection of agricultural crops from a freeze or other type of weather occurrence or accident,” Supervisor Cox said. “Agriculture is the life blood of the San Joaquin Valley and this program will help protect valuable commodities, and, in the long run, preserve jobs.”

RMA Chief Building Official Dennis Lehman said the 24-hour emergency program will benefit the agricultural community tremendously.
“Prior to the program’s creation, RMA staff would only respond during normal County working hours,” Lehman said. “If a farmer needed service on a Friday night during cold temperatures, a fix to the issue could last all weekend. This is a proactive step to assisting our agricultural community.”