MALIBU—On July 12, a draft of the agenda was released to the public by the Public Utilities Commission of the State of California. They decided to shut off power to keep the public safe during a wind storm in the Malibu area. The decision came after 20 of the most destructive wildfires ripping through Southern California back in 2017. The wildfires caused the President of United States to issue a state of emergency for California.
In an effort to reduce the damage caused by wildfires in the future, an agenda was made to de-energize the areas in the most danger of the fire spreading. This system will reduce the risk of fire sparking powerlines or electrical equipment which has been a danger in the past. The issued power outages could affect thousands depending on the area they are residing.
According to the Malibu Times, residents will be given a two-day notice before the power turns off, if the weather permits or it could be sooner. The Pacific Coast Highway could be one of the biggest concerns if power gets turned off. Due to its winding roads, removing street lights and traffic lights could pose a serious hazard to the highway. In the case of an emergency, without power, there would be no way to contact help or alert anyone.
Canyon News spoke with Susan Duenas, Public Safety Manager for the city of Malibu, she said, “SCE has presented to us their plan, but we still have concerns. There hasn’t been enough thought put into mitigating the potential impacts of de-energizing.” Duenas voiced her concern over communication during de-energizing, as well as evacuation situations without street lights.
“It does appear that we don’t have a lot of room to change the policy, I am just hoping that we can have some influence on the mitigation of the most obvious safety impacts,” said Duenas.
At this time, there are no laws in place that require Southern California Edison to provide the public with generators or traffic lights when the power is shut off.
Canyon News reached out to SCE for a comment on the concerns of nearby residents. “We have a pretty comprehensive plan to make sure that we are in touch with our customers. It is important for us to communicate in a timely manner.” SCE wants their customers to know that, “public safety trumps any other priority,” which was the reasoning for implementing the de-energizing.
SCE posted an extensive timeline along with details regarding the de-energizing plan at the following link.