SDG&E announced they may have to turn off power for thousands of San Diego County residents amid forecasts of windy, dry weather that create extreme fire danger.
"Moderate Santa Ana winds are expected to sweep through our region starting Thursday and peak on Friday morning, bringing elevated wildfire danger to the backcountry and the potential for Public Safety Power Shutoffs," SDG&E said in a press release.
On Tuesday, SDG&E notified more than 30,000 customers who live in high fire risk areas and could be impacted over the next few days, amid a Red Flag Warning for the inland valleys, foothills, and mountains.
NWS said winds could reach up to 30 miles per hour with isolated gusts as fast as 60 miles per hour during this time. Humidity will drop to five to 10 percent.
The outage will mark the largest preventative outage in state history to try to avert wildfires caused by faulty lines. SDG&E, Southern California Edison and PG&E are all participating.
The following communities are currently forecasted to be impacted:
- Banner Grade
- Santa Ysabel
- East Ramona
- Palomar Mountain
- East Alpine
- Pine Valley
- Mt Laguna
- Valley Center
- West Valley Center
- Mesa Grande
- Rancho Santa Fe
The areas listed may change as conditions change.
As the weather trends firm up, SDG&E said they will provide updated notifications to those customers within 24 hours of an anticipated Public Safety Power Shutoff, and then again within 1-4 hours of a shutoff, if possible.
"As California's climate conditions have changed, the traditional idea of a fire "season" has evolved into a year-long battle against stronger, faster wildfires. One of our preventative measures to help protect against wildfires is Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events. These events may be called during extreme and potentially dangerous weather conditions."
San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Dianne Jacob released a statement on the possible widescale power shutoffs Wednesday:
“Power shutoffs should only be used as a last resort because they create serious public safety risks for our seniors, those dependent on medical devices and for folks who need electricity to pump well water. As always, SDG&E is putting itself first and looking to cover its liability rear end. Instead of taking the easy way out and pulling the plug on vulnerable communities, SDG&E should redouble its efforts to fully harden power lines and other infrastructure.”
If the shutoffs last more than 24 hours, SDG&E said they are prepared to open Community Resource Centers to provide support to impacted customers. At these facilities, customers can get water, snacks, charge their phone and get the latest updates.