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Public Safety Power Shutoff

Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS):
Information on the Use of Backup Generators

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What is PSPS, and how does it affect me/my business?

Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) is a program in which electrical power providers will turn off power in specified areas to reduce the risk of fires during high wind events. PSPS events are recognized by the District as an unplanned emergency event. Power can be shut off for multiple days at a time. Electrical providers will give notice to affected areas prior to the PSPS event. For the County of San Luis Obispo, the electrical provider is Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E). For more updates about PSPS events in your area, visit PG&E’s website

Am I allowed to have a backup generator? 

Yes, but backup generators aren't needed or appropriate for every situatuon. Consider safety, noise, and cost along with your emergency power needs. Should you decide to get a backup generator, it may need a San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District (SLO County APCD) Permit to Operate or a California Air Resources Board (CARB) Portable Equipment Registration Program (PERP) registration prior to operation. For more information on the use of backup generators for PSPS events, visit CARB’s website. Please note that long-term residency of a PERP-registered engine may trigger the requirement for a District permit. All backup generators are required to have federally-certified engines.

What type of backup generator requires a permit/registration? 

Backup generators powered by internal combustion engines greater than or equal to 50 horsepower are subject to permit/registration requirements. This includes engines fueled by diesel, gasoline, natural gas and propane. For stationary diesel engines less than 50 hp, contact the SLO County APCD for permitting guidance.

How do I apply for a permit/registration? 

To apply for a local (SLO County) District permit, visit the SLO County APCD's Downloadable Forms page for application forms. The SLO County APCD accepts applications via email, hand-delivery, US mail and fax. Applications require a $220.00 filing fee to be processed. The District permitting staff have thirty (30) days to determine completeness of an application, so please be cognizant of the processing time when submitting an application ahead of planned use of the backup generator. To apply for a PERP registration, visit CARB’s website for application forms and instructions. Please note, applications for PERP registrations are only accepted by US mail. 

Can I stage a backup generator/have it on standby on my property?

It can be staged onsite in preparation for a PSPS event as long as it has a permit/registration before it is operated (this includes exercise/maintenance). If the backup generator does not have a permit/registration, it should not be operated outside of a PSPS event. A PERP Form 40 should be completed (see below) for operation during a PSPS event.

The rental company is all out of generators – can one be brought in from out of the area or out of state?

Depends on compliance with current applicable state regulations. Contact the District prior to purchasing, renting, or making any long-term commitments with out-of-area providers.

Who is allowed to operate an unpermitted, unregistered engine?

Typically, no one. However, during an emergency, there are provisions to protect public health and safety. Providers of Essential Public Services (PEPS) may be eligible to operate an engine, during an emergency, without a permit, as long as a CARB Form 40 is completed. Operating an engine outside of an emergency for testing/maintenance purposes is not covered by the Form 40 exemption. PEPS include but are not limited to:

  • electrical corporations
  • electric service providers
  • fire departments
  • gas corporations
  • hospitals that provide trauma services
  • irrigation districts
  • public water systems
  • public agency joint powers authorities
  • publicly owned treatment works
  • municipal utility districts
  • municipalities or municipal corporations operating as a “public utility”
  • police departments
  • prisons and detention facilities
  • public utility districts
  • public transportation and transit systems
  • sewer system corporations
  • telegraph corporations
  • telephone corporations
  • railroads and street railroads
  • municipal solid waste landfills
  • services for handling municipal solid waste
  • transfer stations
  • sewer system
  • commercial air operators

For more information on what is considered a PEPS, see the CARB PERP Regulation or contact the SLO County.

What if I need more information?

Please contact the SLO County APCD by phone at (805) 781-5912 or by email at info@slocleanair.org.