MORONGO BASIN — Residents may have to deal with lengthy power outages this summer as Southern California Edison tries to prevent wildfires.
Edison representative Jennifer Cusack warned about the outages during the Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council meeting Monday, June 10.
“There’s just so much vegetation out there,” Cusack said. “You’ll see a lot more outages this year.”
Edison will also be building local weather stations to track micro climates, reducing brush around power poles and making improvements to the grid, Cusack said.
“There is an inherent risk to just having electrical lines in our community,” she said. “The intensity of these wildfires is tremendous.”
SoCal Edison and other utility providers got the go-ahead to cut power to prevent wildfires last week by the California Public Utilities Commission.
The move follows a state report blaming Pacific Gas and Electric lines for causing the 2018 Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in California’s history.
Cusack warned Morongo Basin residents that wildfire prevention measures could include de-energizing lines, leaving customers in the dark, if weather and other conditions warrant that step.
“Even the smallest spark can cause a fire,” she said, calling the de-energizing of lines the utility’s “tool of last resort.”
She advised everyone to be prepared to lose power. SoCal Edison plans to notify customers before pulling the power during high fire danger.
Ideally, she said, residents will be notified two days before the power is cut.
She added that such power outages will not be brief and will not end until Edison workers have had a chance to “drive the line” and inspect the affected power lines before turning the electricity back on.
When Edison used this method before, in Big Bear, 18 customers went without power for more than a day.
When someone in the audience worried about older people on oxygen, Cusack urged people to be prepared, possibly with backup generators.
“It’s really about being ready,” she said.