Due to California experiencing an exceedingly large number of catastrophic wildfires this year, residents around the state, as well as Kern County, will be subject to Public Safety Power Shutoffs.
So what is a PSPS?
Depending on elevated weather conditions when there is a high risk for wildfires, Southern California Edison is at times forced to temporarily shut off power to prevent the electric source from becoming a source of ignition, according to Edison's senior communication adviser, Julia Roether.
"It is expected to be, unfortunately, a high wildfire season," Roether said. "Public Safety Power Shutoffs are designed to prevent equipment from sparking a fire. There is a lot of factors that go into the decision: a combination of wind, where the fuel is at and where the heat index is at. We look at a whole host of factors when determining when might be the time to call a PSPS."
Edison uses several tools to determine when to call a PSPS. First, it has installed 480 weather stations in fire-prone areas that provide critical readouts every 10 minutes.
In addition, moisture vegetation sampling is conducted to determine how susceptible the vegetation is to igniting. Edison also activates emergency response teams, makes field observations and around-the-clock assessments.
Edison will notify customers usually by four to seven days prior to a shut off of the possibility of an event. Notifications continue to come up and until the day before the event.
So what do you do when your power is shut off?
Since Tehachapi is a vulnerable region, PSPS events are inevitable. Edison is offering $50 rebates on portable power stations, and $300 to $500 rebates on portable generators for well water customers. See marketplace.sce.com.
The Self-Generation Incentive Program provides cash incentives for battery storage or generation equipment, with new incentives available for customers in high fire risk areas. See sce.com/sgip.
The Independent Learning Center of Kern County has teamed up with Edison to provide batteries through its Critical Care Backup Battery Program to medical baseline customers and individuals with disabilities in case of a PSPS.
The Independent Learning Center of Kern County serves people with disabilities.
"With that partnership, we are offering resources to communities to that are designated for PSPS in high fire risk areas. We would like to make these resources known and then available," said Jan Lemucchi, long-term services and support for the center.
These resources will be made available to individuals who are signed up for medical baseline programs where people get reduced rates or are in need of life-saving medical devices such as oxygen.
Said Lemucchi, "Those who are signed up, and you are having a PSPS event in your area, will have access to a portable backup battery on a first-come, first-served basis, with the priority being medical baseline customers."
According to Lemucchi, portable batteries, which weigh approximately 75 pounds, have been made available to both the Stallion Springs and Bear Valley Community Service Districts. Lemucchi said she would be reaching out to the Golden Hills Community Service District as well as the City of Tehachapi to offer batteries to residents as well.
"It compares to a generator so that you can oxygen or whatever your medical need is," Lemucchi said. "Since it is a battery source, it is quiet, compact, and doesn't need to be used outside like a generator would need to be."
For more information about the Critical Care Backup Battery Program, visit sce.com/medicalbaseline.
For more information about backup batteries and the Independent Learning Center of Kern County, visit ilcofkerncounty.org or call 325-1063.