Restraining Order Issued Against SDG&E

By Derek Togerson
|  Friday, Aug 21, 2009  |  Updated 8:11 AM PDT
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Restraining Order Issued Against SDG&E

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In the preparations of fire season, fire stations are offering checklists and instructional DVDs to help homeowners prepare for the possibility of another wildfire.

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It's hot, dry and windy in several parts of San Diego County. That means wildfire season is here. So, SDG&E came up with a plan they think will help. But, not many people agree with them.

"We think this is a great plan," said SDG&E spokesperson April Bolduc. "Our goal is to help stop any kind of fire that we can, and we want to keep our system as safe as possible."

Opponents say a plan is necessary, just not this one.

"Any action that reduces fire is good," Alpine Fire Prevention District Fire Chief Bill Paskle said. "But this plan still needs a little bit of work."

The plan is for SDG&E to work with the National Weather Service and when conditions get bad, the company would shut down electricity, eliminating the chance of a downed power line and the potential for a wildfire. However, there's more to it than that.

"The other issues that this can cause outweigh that concern at this point," Paskle said.

This week the Alpine fire board voted unanimously to oppose the plan. School and water boards also oppose it, saying that in a fire situation, cutting off electricity -- and most modern forms of communication --- is more dangerous than a downed power line, which only causes about 3 percent of wildfires. 

On Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission issued a restraining order preventing SDG&E from even testing the blackout system until September 10.

Long time Alpine resident Stan Brow has the facilities to protect his house, but others in the neighborhood would be in deep trouble if they lost electricity.

"It's the short-term thing, you kind of put a band aid on it you know," Brow said. "But the band aid is going to fall off and you're going to have to do it over and over again."

For the last 2 years, SDG&E has been replacing wood power poles with steel ones all around the county.

"Everybody is in this together," Paskle said.  "SDG&E, homeowners, County, all of us have to do our part."

SDG&E is willing to alter the plan if a better option is made available.

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