Keeping Cool During Summer Maintenance Power Outages

SCE will shift schedules in the desert to earlier or later times of the day to limit the inconvenience during extreme heat.
By Mary Ann Milbourn

Although it has been a mild spring, the hot summer weather will arrive soon and residents, particularly in the desert, are bracing for the heat.

Maintenance work on the electric power grid, however, must continue even on hot summer days to help ensure the safety and reliability of the electric system.

Southern California Edison will again use the enhanced guidelines it implemented last year to try to minimize the inconvenience of maintenance outages during extreme heat in the desert while still getting needed work done.

“The scheduling is a balancing act,” said Michael Binkerd, SCE’s Palm Springs district manager, who has gone through outages at his own desert home. “We need to make these repairs to prevent a more serious emergency outage but we are trying to reduce the inconvenience.”

Several changes were developed to limit the impact of maintenance work on customers and help ensure the safety of field crews during extreme heat. They include:

  •  Scheduling outages earlier in the day or overnight.
  •  Limiting the duration so the work is completed before the worst heat of the day.
  • Bundling maintenance jobs when possible so only one outage is needed.

When temperatures rise well above 100 degrees, maintenance outages may, on a case-by-case basis, be rescheduled to another day.

One of the reasons maintenance outages are necessary even during the heat of the summer is all the work SCE is doing to enhance the power grid.

Last year, SCE conducted 1,144 maintenance outages and spent more than $219 million on improvements in Palm Springs and surrounding communities. This year, the utility expects to conduct just under 1,100 maintenance outages and spend $192 million on improvements in the area.

SCE is holding community meetings called Power Talks throughout its service area to explain why outages occur and how the company is working with customers to reduce the impact. You can sign up to attend one of the meetings here.

Customers are also urged to sign up for outage alerts via phone, text, email or TTY. Customers also need to verify SCE has their latest contact information on file. They can sign up on their account on sce.com under “profile” or call 800-655-4555.

Here are some other outage tips:

  • Use the SCE online outage center to learn about outages in your area or to report them. You can also report outages to customer service at 800-611-1911.
  • Customers on life support equipment should notify SCE so the utility is aware of their special needs in an outage. They may also be able to get a break on their electric bill through the company’s medical baseline program.
  • If you use a generator, place it outdoors and plug individual appliances directly into it, using heavy-duty extension cords. Connecting generators directly to household circuits creates “backfeed” on the system, which is dangerous to repair crews.
  • Most customers with solar power remain connected to the grid with systems that automatically turn off the power during an outage to prevent “backfeed.” More information about solar power and how it works is available on SCE’s website.