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By Miriam Raftery

July 3, 2021 (San Diego) -- The San Diego County Office of Emergency Services is asking all County residents to fill out a survey about the Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) program.  The SDG&E program to shut off power during high fire-risk conditions has sparked controversy across the backcountry among residents left without electricity to power their homes, businesses, wells pumps, and other vital needs. The deadline to complete the survey is July 13.

The survey asks residents whether they received adequate notification of such outages and whether they experienced financial losses, among other details – the first step toward documenting impacts of the program and potentially leading to changes.

San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) has sought to prevent its equipment from sparking wildfires by temporarily shutting off power to customers in specific areas when wind speed, vegetative moisture, temperature and humidity create a high risk for wildfires. 

But being without power also leaves some rural residents without communications to receive wildfire alerts via email, charge cell phones, or access TV reports.  Many residents have also complained about costly losses of food in their refrigerators and freezers, lost business, and other financial hardships related to outages, including some communities that have had dozens of planned outages over several months in the past.  Outages can also prevent stoplights from working, slowing evacuations should a fire occur, as well as forcing closure of schools and businesses unless they have generators.

“Stakeholder and community feedback on PSPS is critical to advancing public safety throughout the County,” the County’s news release on its survey states.

Over the past few years, surveys and public workshops have yielded new ideas on how to keep communities and customers safe from wildfires and other disasters, and how to mitigate the impacts of PSPS events.

Those who choose to include their email address in the survey will be invited to attend a virtual PSPS workshop later this year. The workshop will include a review of the survey results, and an opportunity to provide additional feedback on current efforts.

The PSPS survey will be available until July 13, 2021, and all County residents are encouraged to provide feedback and ideas on how to mitigate the impacts of PSPS events.

Additional information on how to prepare for and deal with a power outage is available at Ready San Diego.


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A public utilities district is probably the only answer

Let's be clear: these PSPS outages are punitive. It is SDG&E who failed to engineer their power transmission to meet the engineering and safety standards that would be able to withstand our predictable wind events. It is obvious that the Witch Creek Fire that SDG&E started was the canary in the coal mine we ignored, and that led to manslaughter charges over the deaths of 85 people in the PG&E Paradise disaster. Dead people not serious enough for you? Then you are a ghoul. This is the bad kind of capitalism that makes the very strong case that the legislature should condemn both company's sparky infrastructure, and create a public utilities district to replace them. Ask yourself, who are the happiest and safest power customers in the State of California? Who pays the lowest prices? Who didn't even have rolling power outages during the 2001 Enron scam? Let me introduce you: