Edison Could Shut Off Power Throughout Southern California


Sharon McNary

A downed and burnt-through power line lies on Highway 150 close to Thomas Aquinas College, only about a quarter of a mile away from where the Thomas Fire originated in December 2017.

Blake Kingsbury, Photojournalist

According to a statement from Southern California Edison earlier this month, as many as 89,500 customers throughout Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Kern and Riverside counties could have their power shut off this Autumn should the seasonally Santa Ana winds become too extreme. 

As of now, it is not expected that these planned outages will affect the city of Yorba Linda or Yorba Linda High School, but they are subject to change at any time due to weather or simply a change of mind by Southern California Edison.

With the numerous amounts of fires that have occurred within these counties over the past few years, including the Thomas Fire and Woolsey Fire, Edison believes that turning off the power in these very fire-prone areas will help reduce the chances of a wildfire breaking out. One of the reasons Edison believes shutting off the power will help prevent wildfires is because of downed power lines. Throughout the last couple of years, some of the biggest wildfires in the history of our state have started due to downed and damaged power lines. Those power lines were in such a damaged condition due to the extreme winds that had been occuring at the time. With the power shut off, Edison believes that in the event of a power line being downed, there will be an extremely less chance of a fire starting. 

Another reason Edison thinks shutting down the electricity in these areas will prevent fires is because of vegetation contact with power lines. If a tree or other type of vegetation should fall on top of a power line, it could cause the line to fall down or suffer tremendous damage. If that happens, the tree or other vegetation could light on fire instantly because of the downed line and cause a massive fire to start within seconds. This would leave people living in the surrounding area with almost no time at all to evacuate, let alone grab all of their important belongings. 

Some disagree with Edison’s proposal to turn off power should these dry and windy conditions occur. Rick Yin (9) said about the idea, “I think there has to be a better way to prevent wildfires than this current plan by Edison. Without power during a big fire, we have no way to communicate with our loved ones.” However, as inconvenient as it may be, most agree that they would rather be caught off guard with a power outage than encounter a rapid moving wildfire with little time or no time to evacuate. Hopefully, this new plan by Southern California Edison to shut down electricity during extreme winds will work, and the number of wildfires in southern California will drop significantly in the coming years.