The Rainbow Municipal Water District will acquire two backup generators and a solar powered battery backup system.
Rainbow's board voted 5-0 on April 27 to authorize General Manager Tom Kennedy to fulfill orders for the two generators and battery backup system equipment. The purchases are funded by a grant from the State Office of Emergency Services, and Kennedy's $ 300,000 spending approval is equal to that grant amount.
Between July 2019 and October 2020, the district experienced approximately 100 hours of power outage events, including 27 hours due to public safety blackouts when weather conditions increased the risk of a power outage on a failed power line.
If pumping stations shut down, Rainbow may not be able to provide drinking water service or the hydrant flows necessary to fight forest fires or other flames. Rainbow owns a portable generator that is positioned as needed to respond to power outages. However, this single generator is not enough if more than one system is losing power.
Rainbow employees placed a contract with Hoch Consulting to provide grant writing services. According to this contract, Hoch Consulting should only pay a fee if a grant was granted. The Office of Emergency Services has a Community Power Resiliency Allocation to Cities program that provides cities and small counties with additional preparedness in the event of a power failure. Rainbow received a $ 300,000 grant from the program.
The grant agreement stipulates that the money will be spent by October 31, 2021. “There are extremely long lead times to source these items,” said acting district engineer Chad Williams.
The combination of deadline and long lead time led to the decision to authorize Kennedy to execute the orders instead of bringing the contracts to the board of directors himself. The expected lead time for the generators is between four and six months.
Rainbow has already placed an order with Engineering Partners, Inc. to provide a purchase specification for the generators, and the purchase specification or performance specification will be used to obtain quotes for generators that meet the requirements for the two locations. The generators are used for the Gomez Pump Station and the Magee Pump Station.
The solar panels and the battery backup system are placed on the sumac reservoir. Rainbow has a radio tower at this location and owns the land while sharing the communications tower with the North County Fire Prevention District. The battery backup system enables both Rainbow and the fire district to maintain voice and data communication capability during an outage.
The grant agreement provides that the equipment will be purchased and added to inventory before October 31st, although construction and actual installation may take place after October 31st.
The approval for Kennedy to approve the purchase agreements includes reports of expenses. “When money is spent, we would put it back on the board,” Williams said.