SAN DIEGO — Utility officials shut off electrical service to nearly 400 eastern San Diego County addresses Friday as a wildfire precaution as the first Santa Ana wind event of the fall continued for a second day.
Due to combustion hazards posed by the gusty winds out of the east coupled with extremely low humidity levels, San Diego Gas & Electric deactivated power to 395 homes and businesses in parts of Bear Valley, Boulevard, Descanso, Live Oak Springs and Santa Ysabel about 4 a.m., SDG&E spokesman Wes Jones said.
SDG&E said it expects to have power restored by 7 p.m. on Friday. Their Customer Resource Centers in the communities of Descanso and Campo, that were opened to provide updated information and resources, are expected to remain open until 6 p.m. on Friday.
On Thursday, SDG&E said nearly 18,000 customers could be affected by a potential power outage, down from the nearly 30,000 customers they had initially indicated earlier this week.
Earlier this week, SDG&E warned San Diego County residents that it could potentially shut off power to 19 high fire risk communities due to forecasted weather conditions that would affect the utility’s power lines.
According to the SDG&E, they are “actively monitoring the potential for adverse weather conditions. These conditions may require us to turn off the power for public safety. If we do turn off power, it will stay off until we can safely restore it.”
The communities include:
- Banner Grade
- Santa Ysabel
- East Ramona
- Palomar Mountain
- East Alpine
- Pine Valley
- Mt Laguna
- Valley Center
- West Valley Center
- Mesa Grande
- Rancho Santa Fe
For real-time outage information, see SDG&E's Outage Map.
SDG&E advised that it plans to provide updated notifications to customers within 24 hours of an anticipated power-down, and again within one to four hours of a shut-off, if possible.
The utility advises those who have received the notification be prepared, making sure they have such emergency supplies as water, food, flashlights, extra batteries and cellphone battery packs. Should any precautionary power shut-off last for more than 24 hours, the utility plans to open temporary aid centers where customers can get water and snacks, charge their cellphones, and get updates.
When asked about the possible power shutoffs, Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Diane Jacob said, “Power shutoffs should only be used as a last resort because they create serious public safety risks for our seniors, those dependent on medical devices and for folks who need electricity to pump well water. As always, SDG&E is putting itself first and looking to cover its liability rear end. Instead of taking the easy way out and pulling the plug on vulnerable communities, SDG&E should redouble its efforts to fully harden power lines and other infrastructure.”
Here's SDG&E's response:
“Yes we understand her comments, but again our focus is on the entire community safety, and we have done a lot to improve our system, to harden our power lines to replace our wooden and steel poles, and even with a well maintained grid, it is still vulnerable at times -- so we put safety first that’s why we’re doing thing.”
SDG&E's announcement comes not only on National Fire Prevention Week, but also during a week when fire danger is high across California with hot, dry, and windy conditions.
“The Santa Ana winds are blowing and I know we need to be ready just in case,” said Brian Donald.
In Northern California, as a precautionary measure to reduce wildfire risk during the forecasted severe wind event, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) confirmed that it will implement a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) in portions of 34 northern, central and coastal counties, affecting electric service for nearly 800,000 customers.
PG&E expects to begin turning off power in some areas early Wednesday, just after midnight. The power will be turned off to communities in stages, depending on local timing of the severe wind conditions, beginning with counties in the northern part of the state.
On Thursday, Southern California Edison announced they would be shutting off power in some areas while other areas are now under shutoff consideration. As of noon on Thursday, SCE says there are 4,700 customers that have had power shut off in Kern County, Los Angeles County, San Bernadino County and Ventura County. They say there are another 173,877 customers under consideration of having their power cut. Those include:
- Kern County (approximately 19,582 customers)
- Inyo County (approximately 682 customers)
- Los Angeles County (approximately 49,024 customers)
- Mono County (approximately 13,177 customers)
- Orange County ( approximately 7,250 customers)
- Riverside County (approximately 22,325 customers)
- San Bernardino County (approximately 41,280 customers)
- Tulare County (approximately 108 customers)
- Ventura County (approximately 20,449 customers)