Wednesday, October 13, 2010

City plans energy backup in emergencies

43 cities included in federal pilot program

Express Staff Writer

Hailey officials are conducting an inventory of critical infrastructure services necessary to keep government rolling in case of a natural or man-made disaster.

Officials expect to have a plan in place by August 2012 to back up energy supplies for all city services for at least 72 hours.

Jim Zarubica, Hailey assistant engineer and energy assurance coordinator, is heading up Hailey's participation in the Local Government Energy Assurance Plan, funded by federal stimulus money. The plan is designed to make sure that local governments can keep city services, communications and government operations running long enough during a disaster to get help from the state or federal government. Hailey began its participation in August, and is one of 43 cities involved nationwide.

"Right now, the city has no generators to back up municipal wells, and backup generators and fuel supplies for the wastewater treatment facility would last about a day and a half," Zarubica said.

He said Hailey's gravity-fed spring from Indian Creek could supply enough water for the city to "limp along" until power was restored.

Of the cities involved in the Local Government Energy Assurance Plan pilot program, Hailey is the second smallest, behind Aspen, Colo. Hailey has a population of about 8,500. Aspen has a population of 5,000.

Zarubica's efforts are being funded with an $85,000 federal grant. Hailey Grant Administrator Tracy Anderson said the city will contribute $23,000 in staff hours to complete the plan.

The city is working toward a final plan for backing up all energy sources in case of a blackout, including possible use of alternative energy sources.

Zarubica said the city will also establish communication protocols between local, state and federal agencies in case of an emergency.

"After we have a final plan, we will purchase backup generators as funds become available," he said.

Individual citizens concerned about emergency preparedness can attend the "Ready Hailey" event at the Hailey Public Library on Saturday, Oct. 23, from 1-4 p.m.

Participants will be given information on how to become prepared and shown 72-hour emergency supply kits as an example of what to have on hand in case of an emergency.

"Ready Hailey" is funded in whole or in part with federal funds from the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Tony Evans:

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