First PSPS of 2022 Highlights Looming Wildfire Threat
"Every customer counts," says Terry Ohanian, Southern California Edison's incident commander for the first Public Safety Power Shutoff event this year. SCE customers on one section of a circuit were at risk of a temporary power outage as a last resort to guard against equipment potentially starting a wildfire due to weather conditions.
Weather forecasts showed a combination of very dry ground conditions and the potential for wind gusts up to 60 mph in the Round Valley area near Bishop. Because of the potential wildfire threat, SCE activated its dedicated PSPS team to monitor conditions, notify local public safety agencies and alert customers to the possible outage and the timing of the expected arrival and duration of the winds. The company activates PSPS protocols when conditions call for it, no matter how many or few customers are impacted.
"Though this was a small event, and we did not have to shut off power, it was a reminder of the threat that communities face when the ongoing drought and high wind conditions combine and definitely a reminder of the need to support our customers to be prepared for emergencies," said Ohanian.
Though no one lost power during the PSPS event, SCE followed up with the two business and one residential customers impacted to discuss resiliency planning and the need to sign up or update their information to receive PSPS alerts. SCE's Bob Stiens, a dedicated PSPS team member who coincidentally was vacationing nearby, dropped off a resiliency kit.
"Meeting customers face to face is such a good reminder of both how difficult these events are for our customers, but also what is at stake when we talk about keeping our communities safe," Stiens said.
During larger PSPS events, the resiliency kits are available at Community Resource Centers and mobile Community Crew Vehicles that are deployed to support customers, including those with access and functional needs (such as customers with disabilities, low-income customers and older adults). SCE also works with community-based organizations that provide emergency services.
PSPS Resources and Rebates:
Preparation for emergencies is crucial. SCE supports customers with rebates and other assistance to help with emergency power needs.
- 211: To provide additional resources during PSPS outages, SCE recently announced an expanded partnership with 211, which offers access to comprehensive social services and emergency support such as resiliency planning, care coordination, meals, overnight accommodations and transportation assistance for customers with AFN.
- Medical Baseline Program: Customers in high fire risk areas who rely on electrically powered medical equipment may be eligible for SCE's Medical Baseline program to help cover the cost of increased electricity usage for medical equipment and receive additional notifications support during events.
- Critical Care Backup Battery Program: Income-qualified customers enrolled in the Medical Baseline program, and low-income program(s) such as California Alternate Rates for Energy or Family Electric Rate Assistance who live in a high fire risk area and rely on electrically powered medical equipment are eligible to receive a portable backup battery at no cost through SCE's Critical Care Backup Battery Program. The battery size provided depends on the customer's medical device(s). To date, SCE has distributed backup batteries to more than 7,000 eligible customers.
- A portable power station can help charge small devices and household appliances for a limited time during an emergency. SCE customers who live in Tier 2 or Tier 3 high fire risk areas and who purchase qualifying models can receive a $75 rebate.
- Portable Generator: For those looking to meet a greater portion of their power needs in emergencies, a portable generator may be the best solution. These devices can help power large household appliances such as refrigerators, lighting, water pumps and garage doors. Customers buying a qualifying model can receive a $200 rebate ($500 for income-qualified or Medical Baseline customers) if they live in an area designated by the state as a Tier 2 or Tier 3 high fire risk area.
Visit SCE's customer resources page for additional information and links regarding PSPS-related rebates and programs.