Record temperatures and 50+ hours of power outages over the 4th of July weekend, 2023 caused a black-out along Highway 120 from Priest Station to the Yosemite National Park entrance worthy of the record books. In response to the tremendous losses (direct and indirect) incurred by businesses expecting their best weekend since 2019 (pre-COVID), the Yosemite Hwy 120 Chamber of Commerce attended Community, GCSD, and Board of Supervisors meetings to speak on behalf of Highway 120 businesses. The following letter was circulated amongst businesses and sent to the Groveland Community Services District along with supporting signatures from local business owners/representatives, owners/operators of short-term rental properties, and individuals who work remotely and/or operate online businesses from the Groveland/Big Oak Flat area.
July 14, 2023
Peter J. Kampa and the Board of Directors
Groveland Community Services District
P.O. Box 350
Groveland CA, 95321
Subject: Support for Designation of Groveland Microgrid as a Location for PG&E Generator(s)
Dear GCSD Directors and General Manager Kampa:
The Yosemite|Hwy 120 Chamber of Commerce board of directors and the undersigned representatives of the Groveland/Big Oak Flat area’s business community are in full support of the Groveland Community Services District’s (GCSD) request that PG&E provide and maintain generators to operate the existing Groveland Main Street micro-grid already installed by PG&E initiated by their PSPS program.
The full support of GCSD’s request stems from 50+ hours of power outages during the Independence Day holiday weekend which crippled Highway 120 retail businesses from Big Oak Flat to the outskirts of Groveland. Every one of our area’s Food & Beverage businesses stocked up in anticipation of big holiday crowds and regaining some of the revenue lost in the series of setbacks that began in 2020, through to the most recent closure of Yosemite’s Highway 120 entrance. Unfortunately, all of them lost ground rather than gained it.
The outages also damaged the vacation experiences of thousands of holiday-makers who happily spend tens of thousands of dollars every year with local businesses to make their Fourth of July memorable. Those bad experiences affect our small lodging businesses including Short-Term Rental owners and property managers, not just due to onsite cancellations for lack of power but the longer-term effect of choosing to spend the Fourth of July (or any major holiday) anywhere but Groveland.
But this isn’t just about July 1-3, which cannot be relived but hopefully will be resolved with some retribution for our small businesses who suffered major losses as cited along with their signatures attached. It’s about the expectations our businesses, residents, and visitors have of PG&E and the investments and promises made that generated power would be available to Downtown Groveland in the event of a power outage. The lack of locally-generated power via PG&E transportable generators is not acceptable to this community, given that the major investment in the downtown microgrid has already been made. Yet, that investment has never been utilized and therefore has zero value to this community until or unless it can be used to avoid sustained power outages and continued losses to our businesses.
Yosemite | Hwy 120 Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors Shirley Horn and Patricia Epp and the undersigned businesses.