It’s hot and this heat wave won’t be letting up in Southern California in short order. So, are you ready for your utility provider to turn off your power?

This is not a joke and your power being cut off isn’t because you forgot to pay your bill. Our California Public Utilities Commission has directed our electricity providers, like Southern California Edison to turn your power off when weather conditions might cause a wildland fire in your area.

Unless you missed it, California has always been subject to major wildland fires. Years of drought  made it worse. So did heavy winter rains. We can’t seem to win either way.

Last year was the worst fire season  in recent memory. Entire communities were burned to the ground. The culprit in some cases? What experts called “arching power lines” and in other cases, the culprit was lightning strikes and arson.

When the winds, humidity, and dry grasses are ignited, many families and communities are at great risk. Wildfire is the great equalizer, it does not know if her victims are wealthy, middle class, or whatever. Celebrities like Miley Cyrus lost her Mailbu home and she is just now getting ready to rebuild.

So, your California Public Utilities Commission told all utility providers in the state that it was time to shut off our electricity in our homes and businesses when the weather conditions might cause a fire. Maybe this policy will save homes and lives. Little time was given to the electric companies to develop plans and seek input from first responders.

Circuits all over the state will be monitored along with weather and fire conditions by your utility provider. If they believe that your circuit is one that might cause fire danger your power will be shut down.

Just recently such a plan was launched to do this very thing over the July Fourth weekend. While predictions called for power to be shut off in more than one circuit,  that did not happen as the weather conditions did not warrant the shutdown.

What will the shutdowns mean for you, your family, or employees? A one to four day power outage in your circuit.  This means you might have to use a shelter. Or, if you can afford it, a hotel room outside of the impacted area.

It also means major hurdles for those who have special-care needs in the home or at local hospitals, along with board and care facilities. In fact, the very possibility of having no electricity may be very challenging for residents and families of all ages. The list of “what ifs” is a mile long.

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Supervisor V. Manuel Perez

If there is any upside to this latest challenge, it is the engagement of County Supervisors V.Manuel Perez and Jeff Hewitt. Once these leaders were notified of this new policy and pending shutdown in their districts they began preparing for what would be an evacuation in their districts.

They are developing a policy and strategy, with emergency managers, to handle the impacts of this new mandate on their residents . They are also expressing their concerns about the power system shutdowns with your state elected leaders.  Supervisors and city councils have many questions that must be answered.

No one is at fault here. However, responsibility for the shut off program policy rests with our California Public Utilities Commission. The intent of the commission was to protect us and save lives and property. These are admirable intentions.

Our utility providers must follow the policies set forth. These power companies must also work closely with emergency management professionals, first responders, and many others to minimize the possible misery of days without electricity.

One of the big questions still unanswered is this: How much will this all cost and who pays for it? Stay tuned …

 

Image Sources

  • V. Manuel Perez: Supervisor V. Manuel Perez
  • Southern California Edison: Shutterstock