Southern California Edison representatives confirmed planned SCE power outages will continue for the foreseeable future. The outages can last up to eight hours on any particular day.
Region Manager Louis Davis said the outages, in which affected customers are notified by mail in advance, are to replace deteriorated poles. “We’re targeting high fire and wind areas,” said Davis, noting that planned replacement with stronger poles is designed to ensure the electrical grid can withstand emergent conditions. “We’re fortifying infrastructure so that ice and falling tree branches can’t easily take out electrical lines and poles, and the weight of snow won’t be sapping wires.”
Davis explained that a recent upgrade of distribution lines from 4,000 to 12,000 volts in the Idyllwild area allows more switching capability. That means specific outage areas can be more effectively isolated so that the larger grid is also not taken down or affected. “Instead of an outage area taking out 500 customers, with this switching capability, that same outage might only affect 15 homes,” Davis explained.
The good news is that the project will toughen SCE infrastructure on the Hill and make it more resistant to future weather-caused or disaster-related interruptions. The bad news is that the system upgrades will continue locally for one more year. “The project, which began in January 2014, is funded for two years,” said Davis. He explained that project managers try to minimize effects on neighborhoods by doing pole upgrades in clusters, doing as many pole upgrades per day as crews can in a particular small area. “We try to localize it to minimize disruption,” he said.
When asked what SCE does when it has customers with medical issues that require uninterrupted electrical service, Davis said the company maintains a Medical Baseline List of such customers. Those customers receive advance notification of planned outages and SCE networks with Riverside County’s Office of Emergency Services to determine what assistance or services those customers may need during extended electrical outages.
SCE is already required to notify OES of any outage 12 hours or longer.
Hill residents desiring to be included on the SCE Medical Baseline List can call (800) 611-1911 or obtain a form online at www.sce.com. The form must be taken to a doctor for verification of the medical need.
SCE spokesman David Song said pole upgrades are one part of a more comprehensive program to make the electrical grid smarter and more flexible, and, therefore, able to deal more effectively with emergent conditions.