TehachaPod dives into Public Safety Power Shutoffs events during a conversation with Southern California Edison representatives and gets answers from questions from the greater Tehachapi community on the podcast's Season 2, Episode 85.
The PSPS season usually begins in October and runs into January due to the weather conditions.
The episode discusses what weather conditions must be met to turn off power and has the grid hardening changed any of those circumstances. SCE’s director of expedited grid hardening, Terry Ohanian, and Government Relation Manager Cal Rossi join Key Budge, Greg Garrett,and Corey Costelloe for an hour-long conversation about the work being done by SCE in the Tehachapi area and what that means to everyone.
The conversation begins with some wildfire statistics over the past couple of years in California and shifts into how the agencies have been working together to improve the infrastructure in the greater Tehachapi area that has been most impacted the past two years.
Ohanian explains what his teams have been doing by installing new covered wire, weather stations, poles, and other things to help mitigate wildfire in the Tehachapi communities and the necessity for PSPS events. Ohanian acknowledges that Edison needed to do better for its customers and that safety was the overall goal and they are working with a goal to minimize PSPS events.
Rossi explains some of the details behind the communication efforts between all the local government agencies and SCE, including Bear Valley CSD, Stallion Springs CSD, Golden Hills CSD, the county of Kern and the city of Tehachapi. He explains where SCE has made some mistakes and how they are correcting those with regard to communication sand to sign up for accurate alerts from SCE.
We talk about the medical baseline community and how people living with disabilities have local resources through the Independent Living Center of Kern County and hear from Director Jan Lemucchi on the services they can assist with.
TehachaPod asked for questions from the community and received nine questions that we asked SCE to answer.
Charles Jensen sent an email from Bear Valley Springs asking two questions: 1. Will the extensive replacement of poles and power lines that have been completed over the last two years reduce the necessity of shutoff? 2. Are you aware of any studies that compare the dangers associated with power outages (i.e. fires from candles and generators, carbon monoxide poisonings, medical device failures, etc.) to the risks of wildfires from power lines?
Michael Lavi on Facebook asked: 3. “What is SCE doing to move power lines from poles to underground, which would reduce the fire danger?”
Nick Altieri on Facebook asked: 4. Please explain why a PSPS by the ISO is called due to wind that might be 100 miles away from the area that is impacted by a power outage. I think I know, but it would be beneficial to explain that to the citizens.
Cara Cooper asked questions via email: 5. Since Bear Valley Springs had the most PSPS events last year in Kern County, is there anything Bear Valley Springs can do to help prevent them? More mitigation? Clear cut under lines? Any suggestions? 6. Also,could SCE talk to the BVSCSD and BVSA HOA boards to help adopt better fire plans? Like adopting LA County regulations of 2,200 feet of clearance around homes. Clearing and mowing vacant lots. 7. Will we be free from PSPS in the future following all the grid hardening?
Brooke Whitehead-Tolles sent an email: 8.Can you explain more about PSPS resources for those with disabilities?
Additional Community Comment: 9. When SCE contractors are out inspecting lines via helicopter, why does it take 2-3 hours into the inspection period to put out a community notification of what has been occurring for hours? I see community comments on social media with people asking what is going on, it creates a mini panic for some, thinking fires or rescue or law enforcement looking for a criminal. This occurred on July 2 in the Bear Valley area. They started between 7 and 8 a.m. and the notification went out via text at 10:34 a.m.
All nine questions were answered by Ohanian and Rossi.
Since TehachaPod began in March 2020, this is the third show focused on Public Safety Power Shutoffs. This is the first-time questions from the community were sought out and all the questions were asked and were answered by SCE.
Additional resources and information regarding PSPS events can be found at www.SCE.com. Listen to the entire conversation https://www.iheart.com/podcast/263-tehachapod-62392602/episode/grid-hardening-by-sce-in-tehachapi-84817667/or on one of our other platforms.
TehachaPod is the city of Tehachapi’s voice for the community, having conversations with experts in various fields. TehachaPod can be found on most podcasting platforms including Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Amazon, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio and many others. You can send your show ideas to Media@TehachapiCityHall.com.