Power Shutoffs Should Be Last Resort, Regulators Warn

The president of California’s utility regulator warned a top power company Monday that power outages to prevent equipment from sparking wildfires should only be used as a last resort.

“We need specifics on where you have improved, where you are lagging and where you are focusing your resources,” California Public Utilities Commission President Marybel Batjer told representatives of San Diego Gas & Electric. “Utilities will be judged by outcome, not by plans.”

As California Burns, the Winds Arrive and the Lights Go Out

New wildfires ravaged bone-dry California during a scorching Labor Day weekend that saw a dramatic airlift of more than 200 people trapped by flames and ended with the state’s largest utility turning off power to 172,000 customers to try to prevent its power lines and other equipment from sparking more fires.

Water District’s Investments in Independent Power Pay Off

The Valley Center Municipal Water District’s investments over the years in independent power sources paid off this week when parts of the district were cut off by San Diego Gas & Electric implementing its shutoff protocols, but all of VCMWD’s facilities stayed powered—although four large (70 kw to 400 Kw) portable power had to be brought in to power five pump stations. This involved placing one of the 150 KW units between two pump stations as needed.

“And with those investments, water/wastewater service was sustained throughout the District service area,” concluded VCMWD Gen. Mgr. Gary Arant.