For Immediate Release –
San Rafael, CA –
Upgrades at San Rafael building part of ongoing disaster preparedness effort
To help prepare for disasters and emergencies, the County of Marin has prioritized the need to develop resilient essential services facilities for the community. For the past couple years, the Marin County Department of Public Works (DPW) has been assessing and upgrading emergency backup electrical power infrastructure at key County of Marin campuses.
This summer, DPW will institute backup power functionality at the Marin Health and Human Services’ (HHS) facility at 120 North Redwood Drive in northern San Rafael, a location that provides a wide range of social services for county residents. Transfer switches and related emergency backup power improvements and equipment will be installed, which will allow a portable generator to be connected to the building whenever needed. The backup power is enough to continue normal building operations when utility power is not in service.
The project is estimated to cost $114,000 and is funded through the County’s Emergency Backup Power Projects Fund and DPW’s Capital Improvement Projects Fund. Work is expected to begin this month and take about four weeks. Public usage of the facility is not expected to be impacted.
The County’s power infrastructure assessment was approved by the Board of Supervisors in January 2020 to ensure that County services will be uninterrupted during a mass disruption of power. The need for such improvements became evident following a series of preemptive public safety power shutoff (PSPS) events initiated by Pacific Gas & Electric Company in October and November 2019.
The assessments and upgrades that began in early 2020 targeted key County facilities located in San Rafael, including the Civic Center campus, the Marin Center campus, and various HHS facilities.
The accomplishments to date include completion of backup power work at the Marin Center’s Exhibit Hall and Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium, enabling the facilities to function as emergency evacuation sites, if needed. Thanks to the emergency power upgrades completed in late 2020, the Marin Center facilities are now capable of operating as a staging location for firefighter operations if it were strategically necessary during a wildfire.
In 2021, electrical backup power infrastructure was implemented at HHS’ Health and Wellness campus in San Rafael’s Canal neighborhood. The improvements included a 500-kilowatt renewable diesel generator, transfer switches, and other related electrical upgrades necessary for backup power functionality.
Backup power options for the Civic Center campus have been identified, but cost estimates still need to be prepared and funding has yet to be determined. Final decisions on options and subsequent construction are not anticipated until early 2023, once potential complexities and costs have been evaluated.
Alternative power sources, such as solar power coupled with Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) technologies, were considered early in the facility assessment process. However, for several key facilities, solar power and BESS proved unfeasible for various reasons including narrow drive paths and parking bays, shading from adjacent multistory buildings and vegetation, and insufficient rooftop area. However, options will continue to be explored in partnership with Marin Clean Energy.
Capital Projects Manager
3501 Civic Center Drive.
San Rafael, CA 94903