Hearing schedule for PSPS; outages, winds continue

Emergency personnel surround a tree blew down in high winds and blocked McBean Parkway near Granary Square in Valencia on Tuesday, 011921. Dan Watson/The Signal

Following the most recent string of Public Safety Power Shutoffs, or PSPS, county Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley, once again reiterated her support Wednesday of the California Public Utilities Commission’s effort to address concerns with the Southern California Edison outages.

The commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing with the utility to ensure transparency regarding their compliance with its rules and requirements and to receive comments from stakeholders.

“This hearing is an important first step to hold Edison accountable to its customers and communities and to fix what is clearly a broken system tied to (PSPS),” Barger said in a prepared statement Wednesday. “Although we understand that Southern California Edison must balance very real concerns about public safety and impending fire danger when they decide to implement a PSPS event, we believe there is a better way to communicate and mitigate these outages. We look forward to working with the CPUC, Edison, and all of the stakeholders involved, including our impacted community members, to make sure any future PSPS events are as painless as possible.”

This comes after the county Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion earlier this month to investigate all available legal options for the county to mitigate the impacts of future PSPS events.

The public hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday. Community members may tune at adminmonitor.com/ca/cpuc/other/20210126 and can call in for public comment at 800-857-1917, passcode: 5180519#.

Continued outages

Following a day jam-packed with power outages and downed trees amid hurricane-force winds, some SCV residents remained without power Wednesday, as the winds continued in excess of 40 mph.

Edison officials said they didn’t have an exact number of SCV residents affected by the Public Safety Power Shutoffs, but could confirm that nearly 5,000 Los Angeles County customers remained without power Wednesday afternoon.

Parts of Newhall, Saugus, Canyon Country and Agua Dulce were among those left without power Wednesday, according to Edison’s outage map.

While estimates for power restoration in some of these areas are based on weather conditions improving and ranged from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday, Taelor Bakewell, an Edison spokeswoman, explained that some may see their power return sooner.

Edison crews are on the ground in PSPS areas, inspecting power lines, ground vegetation conditions near lines being monitored and the weather conditions in those specific areas, to decide when it’s safe to re-energize, Bakewell said.

“If it is safe to do so before the wind event is over, crews will make the decision to re-energize sooner,” she added.

Meanwhile, power had since been restored to the more than 20,000 customers affected by outages reported across the SCV due to storm conditions not related to the PSPS Tuesday.

SCV Sheriff’s Station officials continue to deal with the effects of Tuesday’s storm, as they assist city crews in removing downed trees and directing traffic through still blacked-out intersections.

Breezy conditions remain in forecast

While both the red flag and high wind warnings have since expired, National Weather Service meteorologist Dave Bruno said an advisory for potentially “damaging” winds will remain in place until Wednesday evening.

While Tuesday brought gusts of up to 90 mph in some parts of the SCV, Wednesday’s winds capped out at 48 mph in Saugus and 44 mph near Magic Mountain, Bruno said.

“We’re certainly past the worst of it, but we’ll be down beyond what could be considered damaging certainly by (Wednesday) evening,” Bruno added.

Breezy conditions are expected to continue into Thursday, as the winds die down to 15-25 mph, with gusts up to 30 mph.

In addition, the SCV is expected to get hit with some rain showers over the weekend, per NWS reports.

“At this point, it doesn’t look like anything heavy, but we’ll take anything we can get at this stage of the game since we’re so far behind,” Bruno said, adding that the shower is only expected to produce a quarter inch of rain at most. 

However, more significant storm systems are expected to roll in Sunday night, with cold weather reportedly remaining in the area through next week.

“It looks like we will have one little system Friday night and Saturday, a bigger one Sunday night into Monday night, and then off and on showers pretty much can’t be ruled out much of next week,” Bruno said. 

“Anything we can get to get those fuels moistened up is just terrific news,” Bruno added, referring to the unseasonably dry vegetation still covering much of the SCV’s hillsides, which make the area all the more prone to fires.

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