Southern California Edison warned it might shut off power to eastern Santa Barbara and western Montecito neighborhoods this week, but did not implement shutoffs.
The power company sent out warnings of a potential Public Safety Power Shutoff earlier this week, and issued another one to residents in the shutoff areas at noon Wednesday, said Kelly Hubbard, director of emergency management for Santa Barbara County.
Shutoffs were apparently avoided, as Southern California Edison removed the region from its “PSPS consideration” map.
Edison equipment has caused multiple destructive wildfires over the years, and more recently, the company has decided to shut off power to certain areas during “increased fire risk conditions,” such as windy weather.
The conditions of concern are expected from 3 p.m. Wednesday to 3 a.m. Thursday, when the highest winds are forecasted, according to Edison. That time period came and went without shutoffs, according to the SCE Outage Map.
Hubbard noted that an outage would last longer than the period of concern – at least overnight – because company crews have to visually inspect equipment before turning the power back on.
Some of that work can be done at night, but probably not in the entire shutoff consideration area, which stretched from about Milpas Street in Santa Barbara to San Ysidro Road in Montecito.
It could take up to eight hours to get power back up, Hubbard said.
Residents in shutoff areas who are significantly affected by losing power overnight can call 2-1-1 for help, like getting batteries or charging medical devices, Hubbard added.
“If they can’t stay at home (without power), 2-1-1 has services to support them,” she said.
People should always call 9-1-1 for immediate medical emergencies.
There are about 1,935 customers in the PSPS area, said Edison spokesperson Gabriela Ornelas.
“We are working to limit the scope of possible shutoffs to only those areas facing the highest threat of wildfires due to wind conditions,” she said.
If shutoffs occur, Edison waits for risky conditions to subside and then work to restore service, which includes inspecting all power lines and equipment to make sure they are undamaged and safe to re-energize, Ornelas said.
She said the SCE Outage Map is updated in real-time as much as possible, so residents can check the status of PSPS outages and unplanned outages, such as for downed power lines.
Mary Finn, Kiana Mitchell and Josh Yanez of Southern California Edison were staffing the Community Crew Vehicle stationed at the Franklin Neighborhood Center Wednesday afternoon. It will be parked in the parking lot, at 1136 E. Montecito St., until 10 p.m. Wednesday.
They’re handing out rechargeable lightbulbs; portable cell phone chargers; “COVID kits” with masks and hand sanitizer; vouchers for buying ice; water bottles and granola bars; and information on the medical baseline program.
They had 16 people stop by in the first hour or so, said Mitchell, adding that they’d seen a lot of kids and one dog visit as well. (They have Pup-Peroni treats for the canine visitors.)
The phone chargers are solar powered, or can be plugged in to charge the battery faster, Finn said.
The National Weather Service issued a Wind Advisory for southern Santa Barbara County, and recorded gusts of more than 50 mph in the Montecito hills on Wednesday.
Local fire agencies have upstaffed due to the gusty conditions, County Fire Capt. Scott Safechuck said.
He said he’s felt the weather change over a few hours Wednesday afternoon – it dried out and warmed up, Safechuck told Noozhawk.
Contact Edison at 1.800.655.4555 or check the SCE Outage Map at https://www.sce.com/outage-center/check-outage-status for more information.