SDG&E takes measure despite weather forecast for only moderate wind event.
The utility called customers in high wind areas that could have been exposed to strong gusts on Friday morning. Forecasters had expected possible wind gusts of up to 55 mph, close to the speeds that wooden power poles might fail.
"If winds exceed the design limits of the system, then we are probably going to shut the power off," said Stephanie Donovan, SDG&E spokesperson.
While Santa Ana winds did not reach those high levels, the warnings point out SDG&E's ability to cut power if winds are strong enough. In 2009, the California Public Utilities Commission rejected the utility's plan to shut off power in rural areas of the county using lower requirements.
The company said it is employing technologies to help prevent power lines from causing fires. They include replacing wooden power poles with metal poles.
"Our goal was to have replaced 500 poles last year, 1,000 this year and we have it on the books for another thousand next year," said Donovan.
She said wooden poles are designed to withstand 56 mph winds, while metal poles can withstand 85 mph winds.
The company also said it had employed new technologies which prevent electrical currents from attempting to reestablish power if the line is down. The utility has also set up wind monitors to keep track of wind speeds in high-risk areas.
SDG&E is also working with firefighters and other authorities in the backcountry. Cal Fire said it works closely with the company to inspect transmission lines regularly.
"When they're out doing home inspections they look up, they're looking at power lines and then if they ever see any violations, we notify SDG&E," said Capt. Preston Fouts of Cal Fire.
He said hazards are usually resolved within 24 hours.