MORONGO BASIN — Southern California Edison may shut off power for parts of Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree and other Basin communities today.
The utility company announced its plans Wednesday, warning it might shut off the power for as many as 173,942 customers because of the risk of fire as the weather turns dry and Santa Ana winds sweep in.
Called a Public Safety Power Shutoff, it could affect a huge swath of the western Morongo Basin.
“It all depends on the weather conditions. … We have crews out in the field in real time assessing the danger,” Edison spokeswoman Sally Jeun said Wednesday.
“If they feel it is best for public safety to shut off power to avert a potential fire, it will be shut down,” Jeun said
Communities at risk for a shutoff include parts of Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree, Morongo Valley, Pioneertown and the Homestead Valley areas — Yucca Mesa, Johnson Valley, Landers and Flamingo Heights. Lucerne Valley may also be affected.
Not everywhere in those communities is at risk for a shutoff; maps showing the neighborhoods that could be shut off are posted at https://tinyurl.com/localoutages.
The portion of Joshua Tree that could be taken off line does not include the Hi-Desert Medical Center, the courthouse or the CHP and sheriff’s offices, according to Edison’s maps.
Many other places in Southern California may be affected, including Big Bear, Cabazon, Banning and Beaumont.
In all, the potential outage spans across nine counties.
By Wednesday, 65 customers in Kern County had already been taken off line, Jeun said.
If Edison shuts off the power, it won’t reenergize as soon as the wind dies down. “Then crews have to inspect all the lines and equipment to make sure it’s safe to restore power,” Jeun said.
Elsewhere in California, Pacific Gas & Electric has been shutting off power to millions of people starting Wednesday.
Affecting 800,000 connections, it is the largest preventive outage in California history.