Doing Business Through a Public Safety Power Shutoff

Small business owners are facing new challenges in California. In addition to preparing for wildfire and beefing up their business resilience preparation, small business owners and home-based businesses now must also prepare for extended power outages. This type of interruption can be devastating to the bottom line of small businesses. We believe that these businesses are the backbone of our rural communities. SBC’s Sierra Small Business Development Center is here to help.

COMM Jackson CA Wayne Hsieh 2014 04Throughout the Sierra SBDC region, PG&E territories are experiencing “Public Safety Power Shutoffs”, where the utility turns power off to specified areas in an effort to prevent catastrophic wildfire. Typically these outage events come with a few days to a week of warning, but for many, this leaves internet, power, and even water out for days. In today’s world, broadband connectivity is central to operations, so this can be a very challenging experience for businesses. 

These outages can also result in millions of dollars lost throughout the region in missed revenue. The economic impact to rural economies remains to be calculated, but if this is the new normal, then we will need strategies to bolster and prepare the small businesses in our towns.

So, what are the solutions? How can we band together to support the small businesses in our communities? What can we do to help?

As a consumer, continuing to support your local businesses with your dollars is the most impactful way to help. For business owners, your disaster preparedness strategy must adapt to a new factor — loss of power. One option is alternative energy. For some, the cost of a generator or a solar powered operation is prohibitive, but you may be surprised by the availability of financing options for small businesses, especially for sustainable options like solar power. If these alternative energy sources are out of reach, another option is to “hunker down” — to prepare for extended outages by minimizing expenses and expecting cash flow decreases.

The Sierra SBDC has consultants who are here to help with both of these strategies. In our tourism & recreation driven economy, expert business advisors at the Sierra SBDC are well versed in the ebbs and flows of cash flow and have years of expertise mitigating and preparing for these effects.

Reach out to us today to sign up for free, confidential business advising with the Sierra SBDC, and remember to shop local whenever possible, check on your neighbor, and prepare.

Image Courtesy Wayne Hsieh