Southern California Edison cut off power to more than 5,000 Kern County customers Thursday morning — and it put several thousand more on notice that they, too, could lose electricity — as hot, dry and windy weather conditions raised the risk of wildfires.
SCE said it shut off power at 10 a.m. to 5,289 customers in the areas of Bear Valley Springs, Golden Valley, Stallion Springs and Tehachapi. The number of people affected could be a multiple of that figure because an entire household generally represents a single customer.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co, meanwhile, said it cut off 20 of its customers in Kern shortly after 1 a.m. Thursday. Fifteen were in the Arvin area and five were near Edison. The company said it expected to restore power to its customers in the county "by Friday night or sooner" if it can confirm its equipment is not damaged.
It said a total of 86 customers in Bakersfield were also without power Thursday morning but that those outages were related to planned maintenance activity.
Another 4,000 SCE customers in Kern were placed on notice they stood to lose power as well. Maps showed those customers are located in or near Alpine Forest, Bear Valley Springs, Frazier Park, Golden Hills, Keene, Lebec, Loraine, Old Town, Pine Mountain Club, Sand Canyon, Tehachapi, Town Oaks and Walker Basin.
The shutoffs follow wildfires in recent years that were believed to have been sparked by utilities' electrical equipment.
Also Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom ramped up his criticism of the state's investor-owner utilities, which include PG&E and SCE, over their handling of the shutoffs.
The governor has been pressing the utilities to provide more advanced notice and greater detail of possible shutoffs. He has also called on the utilities to reduce the number of customers affected and to give those who are impacted credits on their power bills.
"Inconsistent application by all three of California’s (Investor) Owned Utilities (IOUs) of previously agreed protocols for PSPS (public safety power shutoff) actions, have undermined efforts to coordinate with first responders to protect public safety during these events," Newsom wrote in a letter Thursday to SCE, PG&E and San Diego Gas & Electric.
"Going forward," he continued, "it is critical that your utilities adhere to the agreements and protocols to provide transparent and consistent notification to state and local government officials, to provide adequately resourced Community Resource Centers, and to plan for and meet the needs of your vulnerable customers."