The Eel River Valley faces a lack of Electricity Capacity


Humboldt County, Calif. (KIEM)- The Eel River Valley area is facing issues with a lack of electricity capacity. PG & E says that the rural area faces issues with both distribution and transmission. The utility company proposed a solution that would take 10 years and $900 million dollars. 

Officials in cities such as Fortuna and Rio dell have grown concerned with the issue. Especially for the future of their economic development. Projects that have already been approved, have become threatened due to the lack of sufficient electricity. 

Merritt Perry, the City Manager of Fortuna, talked to us about the situation. 

“We requested a meeting with PG&E  early this summer to find out what the actual power limitations are… what they conveyed to us was very concerning,” said Perry. “This area is limited by the number of substations and also the transmission lines coming in. And so their ability to hook up new services, particularly for commercial developments, is extremely limited.”

The proposed solution of 10 years and $900 million dollars further impedes these cities’ development and local officials are striving for something more cost effective and timely. 

“A timeline of ten years is is a lot longer than the city finds acceptable,” said Perry. “If most businesses that want to relocate to a location won’t buy property, invest in infrastructure, and simply wait for ten years. The interested developers may simply just walk away.” 

Neighboring city Rio Dell, shares some of the same concerns. Mayor of the city, Debra Garnes, expressed to us her concern with the issue at hand. 

“We are in a real spot,” said Garnes. “You can’t reach out to businesses and try to woo them to your town if you can’t guarantee them power. That’s an absolute essential. If we don’t get the power and we have to wait ten years, it will definitely hinder our ability to grow our revenue.”

Right now local officials are focusing on bringing attention to the urgent issue and trying to reach a more feasible solution with the utility company.