Southern California Edison doesn’t anticipate a public safety power shut-off event in the area this week, although it cautions residents to create an outage plan if weather conditions worsen.
In a social media post about the high winds earlier this week, the National Weather Service stated, “Elevated fire weather conditions expected. Power outages and downed tree limbs possible.”
According to SCE spokesman Reggie Kumar, based on the SCE weather awareness site, there is no anticipation for a PSPS event in the area. The site provides a five-day weather outlook with a color system for normal, PSPS watch and warning.
Kumar emphasized that a PSPS event is a measure of “last resort” to prevent wildfire damage and that Edison has undertaken continued work to reduce the need for such action.
Factors considered for a PSPS event include strong winds, dry vegetation and low humidity. Additionally, a factor considered is the risk of flying debris or damage to wires and equipment that could cause and spread a rapidly growing fire.
“Our meteorologists and fire scientists continue to review weather conditions, using both internal and external weather models, National Weather Service forecasts, alerts and warnings,” Kumar said.
The incident management team at SCE regularly lists potentially impacted circuits and collaborates with Los Angeles County emergency management officials to discuss public safety issues, according to Kumar.
Additionally, field crews look for existing damaged equipment or hazards to poles and wires, managing more than a thousand permanent weather stations.
High winds may cause falling trees, which can cause a power outage but such an outage is different from a PSPS event, according to Kumar.
“We continue to replace bare wire with insulated wire to help eliminate the risk of an ignition when a tree branch or other debris blows into equipment during high winds and reduce the need for PSPS,” Kumar said.
Insulation on power lines helps prevent the ignition from metallic balloons and fallen palm fronds. In addition, SCE officials say they continue to upgrade high-fire-risk areas with “fast-acting fuses” to prevent fires caused by fallen trees and inspect 1.4 million trees annually with about 900,000 pruned.
Edison estimates a 75% reduction in PSPS outages under similar weather conditions from last year, with 81,000 customers removed from PSPS consideration, but Kumar noted this could change from year to year.
Edison created an expedited grid hardening plan with a goal of completion by Oct. 1, when the weather historically begins to see the highest PSPS impacts. There are 13 circuits in the greater Santa Clarita Valley selected for expedited enhancements, with seven completed, four expected for completion this year and two scheduled for completion next year.