After Kern County customers experienced their first public safety power shutoff of 2020 by Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the threat of future shutoffs is likely to remain throughout the remainder of wildfire season, according to Katie Allen, local marketing and communications manager for PG&E.

About 638 PG&E customers in the area of Lebec, near Stallion Springs, Iimon and an area south of Highway 178 lost power on Tuesday evening along with about 172,000 others throughout the state, according to PG&E’s outage map. Power was successfully restored around 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Allen said.

“Kern was able to meet all of the criteria we set out for our 2020 (public safety power shutoff) event,” Allen said. “No significant damage or necessary repairs were found to our electrical infrastructure. It was a seamless event in Kern.”

She said that PG&E utilized helicopters and ground crews to assess their infrastructure before reenergizing these areas out of an abundance of safety concerns. PG&E had a helicopter in the air at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday inspecting lines, Allen said.

The shutoffs were prompted by various weather conditions that heightened the threat of wildfires throughout the state.

“It was necessary because of the significant risk posed by the dry hot weather with strong winds and dry vegetation,” Allen said.

Kern County was put into an “elevated watch” on Saturday during the day, a “watch” on Saturday night and Sunday, and a “warning” on Monday, Allen said. She said Kern County residents impacted by the outages were first given notices 48 hours ahead of time, 24 hours and an hour before the outages.

She said the areas that are impacted by the shutoffs are determined by assessing CalFire’s high fire risk map, however, their entire service area is monitored and considered.

“(Public safety power shutoffs are) only as a last resort when people’s safety, lives, homes and businesses might be in danger of significant wildfires,” Allen said. “We understand these are disruptive but we will not compromise when it comes to the safety of our customers in the communities we serve.”

A community resource center was set up at the Lebec Post Office on Tuesday and was open until 10 p.m. on Wednesday. The center is located outdoors, is ADA-accessible, has restrooms, hand-washing stations, device charging, Wi-Fi, bottled water and snacks.

County government opened its cooling center in Lebec on Wednesday as an additional relief option for impacted residents, according to Megan Person, spokesperson for the county.

Southern California Edison also began initiating public safety power shutoffs as recently as Wednesday, however, no customers in Kern County were impacted. Taelor Bakewell, a spokesperson for SoCal Edison, said they began putting out notices on Saturday due to weather conditions.

She said that public safety power shutoffs are a reality year-round, whether it is wildfire season or not.

“We don’t put a date on it,” Bakewell said. “We monitor the weather closely and make determinations that way.”

Many southern parts of Kern County in the mountains and in the Sierra National Forest are listed on SoCal Edison’s high risk fire areas.

About 32 people impacted by the shutoffs locally were considered “medical baseline,” meaning they rely on electricity for some sort of critical life saving medical treatment, according to Allen. She said that PG&E is not requiring a doctor’s note due to the pandemic, however, she advised customers in need go further than just applying and enrolling themselves in the program.

“Being enrolled is not enough because of the wide ranging medical conditions that are covered and we want people to reach out to us to let us know what (medical equipment) they’re using,” Allen said.

PG&E has created a new outage map for customers to use at https://pgealerts.alerts.pge.com/outages/map/. Allen said that they are working to make these shutoff events “smaller, shorter and smarter.”

“We want people to be aware, be prepared and have a plan,” Allen said. “Plan for medical needs, identify back-up charging methods, make sure to have working flashlights and fresh batteries.”

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(4) comments

Masked 2020

Boris and Zippy are hiding down in this Rabbit hole with cotton N their ears........oh those tapes... its OK... Uncle Don Nos U cant handle the reality...your his wittle babies,,,now personally I would have liked to have known when the intelligence committee knew....PandemicTime is the worse time to have a grifter in the Whitehouse with a gooeymass of LemmingsMinionMAGAphils sharing their disease...alas....its just deplorable....prettysure HRC could of nipped this in the bud....I mean my mother RIP could of navigated this better..even my dad RIP...but he would of had to take direction from my mom...

Boris25

I love how Liberals (Masked 2020) level these ad hominem personal attacks against anyone who disagrees with them. I noticed you didn't speak to the issue of California not spending the money necessary to improve the infrastructure to deliver the necessary power and water. Just ad hominem attacks.

Zeppo

Gavin Newsome should have his power shut off when this happens, not just the working class, or "the unwashed" as Dems. like to call us.

Boris25

There is no better sign you live in a third world country than rationed electricity.

Honestly, if your government is too inept to deliver the basics, and other than water, and that’s something else California can’t deliver, there is nothing more basic than electricity, and you live in a third world country.

Want to know what else only happens in third world countries? Being told to shut off or power down your electricity at a certain time each day only happens in third world countries, you know, like the third world country of California.

Voting for lunatic Democrats is a choice. There’s no shortage of electrical power in this country, but there is in California, because stupid politicians elected by stupid voters put things like the Delta Smelt above curing human misery and refuse to build the necessary infrastructure to deliver the necessary power and water.

Oh, and you’re not saving the planet, morons.

Human created Global Warming is a hoax!

So all you’re doing is suffering for no reason, other than to worship a pagan religion invented by a political party desperate to control and micromanage your lives.

Pathetic.

You get what you vote for, and you voted for not enough water and electricity.

Welcome to the discussion.

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