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Rancher talks about concerns with power shutoffs

With PG&E's plans for shutting off power during high fire danger, several ranchers in Butte County are worried about the impact outages may have on their industry.

Posted: Jun 26, 2019 10:55 PM

OROVILLE, Calif. -- With PG&E's plans for shutting off power during high fire danger, several ranchers in Butte County are worried about the impact outages may have on their industry.

More than one million gallons of water are pumped each day through the ag wells on Lambert Ranch.

"Where this is a new challenge, we never lost power in the summer usually," said Steve Lambert, owner of Lambert Ranch.

PG&E recently launched their public safety power shut off program.

"Now it's getting shut off on purpose, that's a whole new challenge for us," Lambert said. 

If extreme fire conditions threaten an electricity system, PG&E says power could be turned off and they did just that on June 8th for the first time in several parts within Butte County.

"We rely completely on PG&E to keep us with power, to keep our wells going," Lambert said. 

Power on Lambert's ranch was shut off for about five hours.

"Cattle can't be without water, you know. You can't do that, you know. Not for very long," Lambert said. 

His cows drink about 800 gallons of water a day.

PG&E spokesperson Paul Moreno said the utility gives 24 to 48 hours so customers can prepare.

Lambert said his walnut trees get water pumped from underground, so it would be a challenge to prepare.

Lambert says he hopes PG&E can reassess what areas are at fire risk.

"There's gotta be a way how to not shut off the central part of Butte County, you know as far as all the agro areas," Lambert said. 

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