Frustrated IE residents attend meeting on SoCal Edison power shutoffs

Rob McMillan Image
Thursday, November 14, 2019
Frustrated IE residents attend meeting about SCE power shutoffs
Despite calm conditions and near perfect weather, Inland Empire residents are already turning their attention toward the next Santa Ana wind event.

FONTANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Despite calm conditions and near perfect weather, residents near the base of the Cajon Pass are already turning their attention toward the next Santa Ana wind event, whenever it might come.

More specifically, they're worried about the next Public Safety Power Shutoff to be conducted by Southern California Edison.

In Rosena Ranch there have been three such instances within the past couple of months. School has been canceled. Food has spoiled.

"We don't mind a few hours of shutoffs," said Rosena Ranch resident Marina Barcena. "But not two days."

A community meeting was held in Fontana at the Jessie Turner Center Wednesday evening for residents to voice their concerns about power companies shutting off the electricity during fire weather events.

"Their biggest concern is to try to prevent what happened a year ago," said Jacque Mastin of Rosena Ranch. "We understand, but there has to be a happy medium somewhere."

There was frustration at the packed meeting. Residents gathered demanding answers about the outages, and many say they didn't get any.

A SoCal Edison representative at the meeting told the crowd the company is working to make sure the shutoffs are not the new normal.

Also on Wednesday, the California Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to start a formal investigation into preemptive power outages all across the state. The state's largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Company, has conducted several of these shutoffs.

During one stretch, and estimated 2.5 million people in California were without power. One outage lasted several days.

"These sustained Public Safety Power Shutoff events cannot be the new normal for California," said commissioner Marybel Batjer.

SoCal Edison provided the following statement to Eyewitness News:

"Southern California Edison will be actively participating in the CPUC process that seeks to address this very important topic for all of our customers and for the safety of the communities we serve.

"We understand that public safety power shutoffs are disruptive and we don't make those decisions lightly. We do everything we can to minimize the impact and communicate to our customers."