SDG&E sent out a letter announcing weekly power outages for the months of August and September in the Carveacre neighborhood in Alpine. Over 100 customers will be affected up to nine hours a day, one day a week. People in the affected area say the project is good, but the timing is not right, especially when there are homes without electricity after the Alpine fire in July.
Alpine resident Bill Smith said SDG&E has been “cutting power off at least once a month for the past three or so months. Not everyone can afford a generator and people who have solar panels lose the credit for the entire day. We all have wells here and can’t run the water without power.” Smith has 19-month-old twins and said it’s difficult to keep them in the house during 100-degree temperatures “even with the windows open.”
Allison Torres with SDG&E said the company is replacing wooden poles with steel poles while upgrading and strengthening the power lines in an effort “to make them fire and wind resistant.” Answering the concern about the timing, Torres said SDG&E takes the weather conditions in consideration and “we are actively monitoring all outages even after we schedule them.”
Carveacre resident Linda Ascione Niman said, “The absolute worst power outages are when SDG&E deliberately turns off our power during dangerous Santa Ana conditions. This is very frightening because we feel totally defenseless. They are only protecting themselves from being liable if their wire start a fire.”
Local resident Jerry Peel believes that preparation is mandatory for such circumstances. “Living in the back country, you need to be prepared for anything if power is a concern. It’s simple, people need to learn how to take care of themselves and not be dependent on the grid. Buy a generator.”
The planned outages are part of the Cleveland National Forest Fire Risk Mitigation Initiative which has been in work for the past 10 years. The Cleveland National Forest plan aims to replace “approximately 2,100 existing wood poles with fire-resistant, weatherized steel poles that closely resemble wood."
Due to extreme temperature, SDG&E cancelled one scheduled day of power outage so far for the month of August.