Calistoga has been operating on two sets of generators for the past several weeks, since the Glass Fire damaged the transmission mains that deliver electricity to the town.
Even so, that still leaves the west side of town without power during PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events.
The utility installed new diesel-powered backup generators on lower Washington Street that went online at the end of August, at a cost of $4 million to the company, however, the town has also been operating on generators installed at the substation on Highway 29, according to City Manager Mike Kirn.
“It is my understanding that the city is, and has been, powered by the lower Washington generators since the evening of Sept. 29 for both non-PSPS events and PSPS events. The Hwy. 29 Substation Generators were installed and put into service on or about Oct. 2.”
Complicating matters, PG&E initiated yet another PSPS event on Sunday that was due to last until Tuesday night, as the forecast called for high winds, leaving the west side of Calistoga once again without power.
The new generators still only energize the town east of the Napa River. Power boundaries are defined by PG&E, and the west side of town is very close to tiers 1 and 2, which are at greater fire risk.
In the past, businesses in Riverlea Square Shopping Center at the corner of Petrified Forest Road and Foothill Boulevard have gone without power for as long as a week.
During the PSPS events, Local Q 707 restaurant, Soul Rebel Coffee, and 360 Salon & Day Spa have been running small, noisy generators, while Calistoga Dental Group was closed throughout.
The small, gas-run generators afford the Riverlea businesses with minimal power.
“We haven’t been able to open because we can’t run all of our equipment inside,” said Local Q owner Rob Serini. “Right now the generators are just keeping the refrigerators and freezers cold. We’re just scrambling right now.”
During previous PSPS events Serini said he just closed the restaurant. But he did plan on opening Tuesday by erecting a tent outside and cooking on a grill.
“No French fries or anything like that,” he said, adding he hoped to be fully operational for take-out by Friday.
Serini said he purchased the generator after losing six cases of hamburger during a previous PSPS event. The power outages also play havoc with how much food to order from suppliers.
Behind the restaurant, 360 Salon & Day Spa has also been running on a small generator that minimally powers lights and blow dryers, said owner Kyla Terry. The generator also serves to power the refrigerator and freezer next door at Soul Rebel Coffee, owned by Terry’s husband, Nick Gutierrez.
Clients that come to the salon share their feelings about the fires and PSPS events, with a few “crying in the chair,” Terry said.
“They’re feeling for all the people who are affected. ‘What can we do to help? How will this get better?’” she said.
Terry and Gutierrez also live in the neighborhood. Gutierrez has been making pots of coffee and giving them to neighbors who don’t have hot water during the PSPS event.
“Our motto is, take it day by day,” Terry said.
Watch now: Calistoga Mayor Chris Canning discusses full city evacuation
You can reach Cynthia Sweeney at 942-4035 or firstname.lastname@example.org.