Some customers prepare for the possibility of power outages by buying an electric generator as a standby system to keep lights and appliances running until service is restored.
A generator may be able to help save food in your refrigerator or freezer during a prolonged outage, let you keep your home office running, or power other essential equipment. Generators can be expensive and noisy. They can also pose serious safety hazards to you and to others, so please follow all safety instructions provided by the manufacturer.
The law requires that customers with a permanently installed or portable generator do not connect it to another power source, such as PG&E's power lines. If you own and operate a generator, you are responsible for making sure that electricity from your unit cannot "backfeed," or flow into PG&E's power lines. For safety's sake, be sure to use your generator correctly. If you do not, you risk damaging your property and endangering your life and the lives of PG&E line workers who may be working on power lines some distance from your home.
When a generator is permanently connected to a customer's electric system, it energizes the building's wiring. This type of installation requires a device that prevents the generator from being connected to PG&E's power lines. Only a qualified professional, such as a licensed electric contractor, should install a permanent standby generator.
Portable generators are designed to be connected only to selected appliances or lamps. These generators never should be connected directly to a building's wiring system.
Download printable generator safety guidelines (PDF, 348 KB).