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Wildfires, Heat Wave Keep SCE Crews Working 24/7

Energy conservation over the next few days will be key to avoiding outages as increased usage will put stress on the electrical grid.
By Caroline Aoyagi-Stom @SCE_CarolineA

UPDATED: June 28, 5:45 p.m.

With partial containment of the wildfire in Kern Valley, Southern California Edison crews have been focused on restoring power in these devastated areas.

But with the hot weather, extra stress on the electrical grid has crews at the ready for possible additional power outages.

“This is what our crews are trained for so they are ready to safely and quickly repair our customers’ power,” said Tim Kedis, SCE principal manager in Grid Operations and incident commander. “But we also ask our customers to conserve energy where they can, including setting thermostats no lower than 78 degrees, so there is less stress on the grid.”

The Erskine Fire in Kern Valley is now 45 percent contained. SCE crews have started gaining access to most areas affected by the fire. They are safely clearing lines and assessing damage to electrical equipment.

As of 1 p.m.Tuesday, 1,900 customers in the South Fork Valley area, mostly in South Lake and Weldon, had their power restored. About 1,250 customers were without power in the communities of Mountain Mesa and Squirrel Valley.

But on Tuesday evening, inclement weather moved into the area, resulting in additional outages. Due to the effect of the inclement weather on the restoration efforts, the number of customers without power will vary throughout the evening.

At this time, SCE expects most of the power disrupted by the Erskine Fire to be restored by the end of the week, however some customers may remain without power into the weekend. In some cases, electric service may not be restored to customers’ properties damaged in the fires because that will require further customer repairs, and inspections first by local county inspectors. 

Due to continuing hazardous conditions, access by residents to areas where electric service has been restored will need to be determined by local officials.

While crews are working on restoration efforts, some customers have been put on generator power. Customers on generator power may experience outages as they are switched back to grid power. 

As of Tuesday, 127 of more than 200 distribution poles and 31 of 85 transmission poles damaged by the fire have been replaced. 

“We recognize the challenges and difficulties faced by the community during these wildfires,” said Kedis. “We thank customers for their patience as we continue to restore service to their homes and businesses.”

Weather permitting, SCE employees are planning to distribute water, flashlights and ice Wednesday adjacent to Mountain Mesa Market,12324 Mountain Mesa Rd. in Lake Isabella.

As crews continue to make headway in the fire-damaged areas, high temperatures are expected in the Southland though Wednesday.

Hot weather over an extended period is particularly hard on the power system. It’s on days like these that, like a car engine continuously running, electrical equipment does not have enough time to cool down. This can lead to more outages.

SCE wants to remind customers that electric service interruptions are possible throughout the region over the next several days due to ongoing infrastructure repair and replacement activities, and the use of portable generators to serve some affected customers. The company appreciates customers’ patience and understanding during this time. 

To help tackle this, SCE offers several energy conservation programs such as Save Power Days and the Summer Discount Plan which offer some bill savings. A Save Power Day has been called for Wednesday. Customers who are enrolled and voluntarily reduce their power usage from 2-6 p.m. will get credits on their electric bill.

If outages occur, customers can get the latest information by using the SCE outage map. Outages also can be reported at 800-611-1911. Updates are available at: Twitter.com/sce and Facebook.com/sce

Conservation Tips:

  • Turn off all unnecessary appliances and equipment.
  • Use electric fans instead of air conditioning when practical.
  • Shut off lights when leaving a room.
  • Close drapes and blinds to keep out direct sunlight during hot periods.
  • Avoid using evaporative coolers or humidifiers at the same time an air conditioner is running.
  • Operate swimming pool equipment and energy-intensive appliances, such as dishwashers and dryers, during early-morning and late-evening hours.
  • Limit the opening and reopening of refrigerators, which are major users of electricity in most homes.
  • When possible, businesses should shift power-intensive work processes to morning or late-evening hours.
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