Acton, Agua Dulce named as sites for SoCal Edison improvements; Canyon Country still uncertain

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While Acton and Agua Dulce are likely to receive hardened power grids over the coming year to reduce the number of power shutoffs, the Santa Clarita area, including parts of Canyon Country, is still under consideration for large-scale, expedited improvements.

The news comes after Southern California Edison officials presented their Public Safety Shutoff Action Plan to the California Public Utilities Commission on Friday. Within this corrective action plan was the power company’s proposal to reduce the use of PSPS, execute PSPS events more transparently, mitigate the impacts of PSPS events, improve communication with customers and improve post-event reporting. 

The move to address these issues comes after late-November and December power shutoffs to thousands of residents across Santa Clarita Valley due to fire threat caused by high winds. 

The shutoffs frustrated many residents, who were not only dealing with the lack of electricity over Thanksgiving and in the days before Christmas, but also during a time when distance learning is the norm for SCV students — and working from home is still a widely used practice.

On Wednesday, Reggie Kumar, a spokesman for the power company, said the report details the various projects SoCal Edison plans to undertake for the powerlines for about 27% of all SoCal Edison customers, or the 1.3 million customers who live in areas at high risk for fires. 

Of the 230,000 intentional power outages in 2020, about 190,000 were in November and December due to severe Santa Ana winds. 

SoCal Edison officials said they hope to increase the number of covered conductors and backup generators, as well as other solutions, to improve their performance with PSPS. However, due to how they are analyzing their data and deciding how they will move forward with the expedited installation of apparatus that will lower the number of PSPS, Acton and Agua Dulce are likely to see improvements. Santa Clarita and Canyon Country have not yet been decided upon. 

“While we are looking at circuits in the Santa Clarita area, there will not be a final decision until the end of April, when we will be identifying work that will be completed by October to reduce the need for PSPS events,” said Kumar. 

The process for selecting the those that will receive an expedited circuit hardening include a review of the community’s: de-energization counts due to PSPS events from 2019-21, the number of customers impacted by these PSPS events and the number of access and functional needs, or AFN, customers — those customers who have reported physical, developmental or intellectual disabilities, as well as critical Infrastructure customers, impacted by these PSPS events.

“Once this list is finalized, these circuits will undergo in-depth review for expedited hardening opportunities to address both PSPS impacts and wildfire risks,” Kumar said. 

SoCal Edison has said it hopes that these improvements in high-risk fire areas will reduce the number of PSPS incidents by 15% in comparison between 2020 and 2021, assuming the same weather conditions. 

“Approximately 27,000 fewer customers are expected to experience PSPS events under the same weather conditions,” said Kumar. “Almost half of these customers, or almost 13,000 customers, are not expected to experience PSPS again.”

SoCal Edison officials said after submitting their plans Friday, they have until April to decide on additional projects, such as Santa Clarita circuit lines, in order to ensure the updates are completed by the beginning of fire season the following October.

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