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Second Appeal Brief
PA ID# 000-UDE6N-00; City and County of San Francisco
PW ID# 77; Damage Surveys
Conclusion: The damage survey of the electrical transmission lines, lattice towers, conductors and insulators performed by the Applicant’s contractor, as well as the cleaning of the lines and insulators are not eligible for PA funding.
From August 17 to October 24, 2013, a wildland fire (Rim Fire) that began in the Stanislaus National Forest raged through Tuolumne County and burned 257,314 acres of land. The Rim Fire threatened parts of the electrical power distribution system operated by Hetch Hetchy Water and Power (HHWP). HHWP is a department of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. The Rim Fire caused electrical arcing among two 230kV transmission lines (Lines 5 and 6, also referred to as LOP 47) causing them to disengage from the power source. Before the transmission lines could be re-energized, HHWP followed certain state and industry safety precautions which included an assessment of the electrical system. HHWP work crews visually inspected the affected transmission lines and communicated their observations to a contractor, who then conducted an assessment and issued a report to HHWP. According to the contractor’s report, no fire damage was observed on the lattice towers or conductors, while the insulators appeared to be contaminated with ash from the Rim Fire. An insulator was removed and sent off for further testing. The result was that no heat damage was detected on the insulator. The contractor’s report recommended washing/cleaning the insulators for long-term operating reliability. PW 77 was generated to document the Applicant’s overall request for Public Assistance (PA) for surveys of its power distribution system, including Lines 5 and 6. All of the work described in the PW was determined to be ineligible for PA funding and PW 77 was obligated for zero dollars. The Applicant appealed the determination for Lines 5 and 6 only, arguing that the cleaning of the transmission lines and insulators was required by state and industry safety standards. The Regional Administrator (RA) denied the appeal stating that per FEMA policy, damage surveys are not eligible for Public Assistance funding. The RA further stated that there was no damage to the transmission towers or conductors and test of a representative insulator yielded no heat-related damage. On second appeal, the Applicant again argues that the cleaning of the insulators was required by state and industry safety standards. Specifically, the cleaning to remove the ash was required to reduce the risk of arc-flash during the re-energization process, which in turn, reduced the risk to life, health and safety of the first responders fighting the fire in and around the power distribution lines.
Authorities and Second Appeals
Stafford Act §§ 403, 406.
44 C.F.R. § 206.201(b).
PA Guide, at 55, 56, 85.
Florida Dept. of Transp., FEMA-3288-EM-FL, at 5.
Florida Dept. of Transp., FEMA-1561-DR-FL, at 2.
Pursuant to the PA Guide, at 55, the owner of a facility is responsible for determining the extent of damage.General surveys for damage are not eligible for PA funding.
Pursuant to the PA Guide, at 56, when disaster-related damage is discovered during a survey or is evident from other observation, inspection of only the damaged section is eligible for PA funding. That limited cost may be included in the PW for the damages.