By RHEA-FRANCES TETLEY
At a community meeting held on Sept. 12 at the San Moritz Lodge, Southern California Edison Company (SCE) informed the community about the planned power outages on Oct. 7 and 14 that will be affecting approximately 4,000 homes in Crestline. The outages, said spokeswoman Melissa Boyd, will be slightly shorter than the previously announced 16-hour outages.
The new start time of the power outage is 10 p.m. instead of 8 p.m., as originally designed. Boyd said the Crestline Chamber of Commerce had contacted them and asked for the later start time, since Oct. 7 is the date of the last Corks & Hops, an event that attracts hundreds of people coming to town. The event lasts until 8 p.m., after which many of the people stop and eat at restaurants before leaving town. The two-hour later start to the outage will allow the chamber to clean up after the event and allow people to get safely back to their homes. It will also allow the restaurants to serve dinners and for the bands to play until 10 p.m. at the bars.
Unfortunately, the Sunday noon re-energizing of the electrical lines is not a hard time and the power will resume as the work is completed. This may disrupt some church services and other Sunday morning activities in the affected areas on Oct. 8 and 15.
The outage needs to occur to allow some poles that service the Huston electrical substation to be replaced. SCE said they will begin work on Manzanita Drive at the back of the substation, beginning in the mid-afternoon, so Manzanita Drive between Lake Drive and Hillside will be completely closed most of the afternoon as 18 large trucks, bucket trucks and five five-man crews and foremen all descend on Manzanita to replace these poles.
SCE has chosen this time of year for this particular replacement because of the predicted milder weather. If they wait later in the year, the weather may turn colder and nesting season will start and force them to not perform the work when the birds are nesting in the trees.
October historically has the lowest electrical use in the area and it will be easier to reroute some circuit usage to lessen the number of people affected by the outage. SCE has been working on scheduling this mitigation project for three years and has been looking for ways to lower the number of those customers affected. They hope to activate some switching procedures to minimize the number of customers affected by the outage; this mitigation plan is still under development. As the date approaches, SCE will be notifying those who absolutely will be affected by these de-energized circuits about 10 days in advance, if the customers are registered in their notification program.
This pole replacement is part of Edison’s fire mitigation plan for the mountain. Because the substation will be affected by the replacement of these poles next to it supplying electricity to and from the substation, many more people will be affected than during a regular pole replacement job.
To replace the pole, they must de-activate the circuit, remove the wires from the top of the pole and put the risers and wires on the pole in advance of installing the new pole. While that is occurring, they must remove the old pole and excavate the hole for the new pole and then, when the initial wiring is ready, install it on the new pole, plus complete all the connecting work to get the circuit back into operation. This is a multi-man, multi-hour job, requiring many workers for each installation area of installation so that is why the power must be out for 14 hours for the job to be completed. They will be replacing two or more poles each evening.
The map shown is intended to just provide a general overview of the outage footprint. Because circuits do not necessarily match the map’s parameters, SCE hopes customers will rely on the map only for general information, not for specific details as to whether their service will be out.
It is important for SCE to have accurate contact information for all their customers so they can send out these notifications, whether by letter, phone, text or Internet. SCE needs to be aware of those families with medical electrical needs, especially for those on oxygen, who should be on a medical baseline electrical or critical need plan. Those homes should have some backup batteries for their needs or a generator for their equipment. SCE has asked all who have medicines and other items that need electricity for refrigeration or other needs to notify them as soon as possible so they can try to solve any problems in advance of this de-energization of the circuits.
SCE has a marketplace with resources for all to search to resolve future de-energization problems. They said in the meeting all homes must be prepared for when their homes are offline.
One important consideration for residents is that those Saturdays may not be the best time to stock up on freezer and refrigeration items, until after the power outage, and to not open refrigerators during the outage to keep your food as cold as possible. Extra ice could possibly help keep those items safe from spoiling. Advance planning is the key to getting through these two weekends without much difficulty to make this community safer from fire.
It was suggested affected residents unplug larger appliances, TVs, computers and other sensitive electrical devices, or to turn off circuits at your circuit panel box to your home (NOT THE MAIN POWER SWITCH) so the power surge doesn’t destroy them when the power is restored. It was reported several refrigerators did not survive the regeneration of electricity to their areas after the big snowstorms last winter.
All the first responders – sheriff, CHP, County Fire, Cal Fire, Cal OSHA and others – are aware of the outage and what roads will be closed and the special needs of the community during that time and will be on the lookout for those trying to break the law.
The work will be performed by Faith Electric workmen who have been doing these pole replacements over the last year in this area, under the supervision of SCE. If anyone has a question at the site, speak to the SCE supervisors in the SCE white trucks with the blinking green lights. Do not bother the Faith Electric workmen, they requested.
To learn more, check SCE’s social media announcements on Nextdoor, X, Facebook and Instagram.