Leaders and representatives in the greater Tehachapi area and city of Tehachapi are voicing their concerns about how Southern California Edison is implementing Public Safety Power Shutoffs, speaking with other state government representatives and attending out-of-area meetings.
“Kern County’s mountain and foothill communities have felt the greatest impact of these shut-offs, as they receive warning notices almost daily. The Kern County Board of Supervisors is demanding that utilities begin managing these shut-offs more responsibly,” Kern County Second District Supervisor Zack Scrivner, who represents Tehachapi, among other areas, wrote in an email.
Many people who have lost power were outside the area where Southern California Edison said electricity could be shut off. Others hadn’t received previous notice, and residents who use electricity for medical reasons were put at greatest risk, added Scrivner.
Kern County representatives attended an emergency hearing led by the California Public Utilities Commission on Oct. 18, and participated in public comment. This meeting was meant to question executives from Pacific Gas and Electric Co. about mistakes and operational gaps due to the shut-offs, Scrivner said.
Even though the meeting specifically addressed PG&E, the CPUC on Oct. 14 sent a letter of concern to Carla Peterman, the senior vice president of regulatory affairs for SCE.
It said that "SCE should carefully assess and consider the CPUC’s directions to PG&E” and “ensure critical lessons learned are transferred to SCE’s operations."
Southern California Edison has repeatedly said shut-offs took place where there was high fire risk, often because of high winds. The company has said that when power is down, it's for the public's safety.
Many residents were without power one to three days in Stallion Springs, Bear Valley Springs, city of Tehachapi, Old Towne, Keene, Cummings Valley, Sand Canyon, Golden Hills, and other areas.
“From the members' perspective and from the membership's perspective, it has been really frustrating. We don’t want to be an at-risk community,” said Wesley Shryock, general manager for the Bear Valley Springs Association.
The association has limited means and resources to keep the restaurant, administration building and other amenities open during a power outage, but they are creating proposals for consideration to help keep services operating in case of other power outages, said Shryock.
The Bear Valley Community Services District and Bear Valley Police Department are first to help the community if an emergency arises, added Shryock.
Representatives from the Bear Valley Community Services District could not immediately be reached for comment.
David Aranda, general manager of Stallion Springs Community Services District, said many pubic service groups and departments worked around the clock when the three outages happened in the community.
The Stallion Springs Police Department and the CERT team assisted those who had severe medical needs, using the district’s board room as a place to provide oxygen and refrigerate medical supplies by use of a generator. Public works staff made sure potable water was available and the wastewater treatment plant still operated, said Aranda.
“Staff went beyond the call of duty,” Aranda said.
City of Tehachapi representatives have voiced opposition to the PSPS and created videos encouraging the public to sign up for alerts and notifications from SCE before the power is shut off.
"From the city standpoint, we were prepared with generators to ensure the water and wastewater systems, police communications, dispatch and public safety continued with business as normal. We created partnerships to ensure success during an event like this," Tehachapi City Manager Greg Garrett wrote in his memo published by Tehachapi News in the Nov. 6 issue.