ROSEMEAD, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Southern California Edison remains committed to supporting our customers and communities affected by the recent wildfires; our hearts go out to all of those who have suffered losses during this difficult time.
As with its Nov. 8 electric safety incident report, SCE is publicly releasing a letter it submitted today to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) providing additional details regarding the operation of its electric system on Nov. 8 in the vicinity of where the Woolsey Fire reportedly began.
The previous incident report noted an outage on the Big Rock 16 kV circuit out of the Chatsworth substation at 2:22 p.m. on Nov. 8. Once SCE was able to access the site, we found no evidence of an energized wire on the ground; however, we did find a guy wire, which is used to provide pole support, in proximity to a line known as a jumper, which is used to connect two energized lines. As discussed in today’s letter to the commission, the potential that the Nov. 8 outage was related to contact being made between the guy wire and the jumper remains under review by SCE, along with several additional areas of focus.
At this time, the cause of the outage on the Big Rock circuit has not been determined and it may not be definitively understood until additional information is available, including information which can only be obtained through examination and testing of equipment retained by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection as part of its ongoing investigation of the Woolsey Fire. SCE will continue to cooperate with the investigation, which may take a considerable amount of time to complete.
Comprehensive Policies Still Needed to Address the Growing Threat of Wildfires
With the increasingly serious, ever-growing wildfire threat to California, it is unmistakably clear that further urgent work is needed to develop thoughtful, comprehensive policies to address this statewide problem. SCE strongly supports the increased funding for fire suppression and improved forest and land use management policies included in SB 901(Dodd, D-Napa).
While the state legislature has taken an important initial step to mitigate wildfire risks through the passage of SB 901, much more is urgently needed to address the critical issues of fire prevention, suppression efforts and liability allocation. SCE believes the state can do more, including ensuring the proper allocation of legal responsibility — including SCE’s where appropriate — for the often-tragic consequences of wildfires.
The new Commission on Catastrophic Wildfire Cost and Recovery established under SB 901 provides an opportunity for a thoughtful, in-depth examination of how state policy allocates liability and compensates for fire damage. Without continued focus, the wildfire threat will only become more acute as our climate continues to change.
Edison’s Efforts at Managing the Wildfire Threat in California
Safety is the company’s top priority and a core value for SCE. Its employees work vigilantly year-round to strengthen the electric system and protect the public and SCE’s employees against a variety of natural and man-made threats. SCE has long taken substantial steps to reduce the risk of wildfires in its service territory and continue to look for ways to enhance its operational practices and infrastructure. SCE employs design and construction standards, vegetation management practices and other operational practices to mitigate wildfire risk and has collaborative partnerships with fire agencies to maintain fire safety.
SCE has proposed a $582 million Grid Safety and Resiliency Program (GS&RP) consisting of additional measures to enhance wildfire safety in a Sept. 10 filing at the commission.
Under the GS&RP, SCE is incorporating leading mitigation measures to enhance the significant practices already in place to reduce the risk of wildfires. Key elements of the plan include reducing the risk of sparks that can ignite fires by replacing nearly 600 miles of overhead power lines in high fire risk areas with insulated wire (often referred to as covered conductors) by the end of 2020 and another 3,400 miles of overhead lines with insulated wire between 2021 and 2025.
SCE also is installing nearly 15,700 “current limiting” fuses that reduce fire risk, installing cameras and up to 850 weather stations to help monitor high-fire weather conditions across the utility service territory and has proposed additional operational best practices to mitigate fire risk.
Many Factors Contribute to Rising Wildfire Risk
Multiple factors contribute to wildfires across SCE’s service territory and throughout California. This includes the buildup of dry vegetation in areas severely impacted by years of historic drought; the failure of multiple responsible parties to clear the buildup of hazardous fuels; increasing temperatures; lower humidity; and strong Santa Ana winds. Such factors can trigger wildfires for a variety of reasons and strain or damage utility facilities, no matter how well designed, constructed and maintained. Wildfire risk is increasing at the same time more and more residential and commercial development is occurring in some of the highest-risk areas — with more than a quarter of SCE’s service territory in high fire risk areas identified on the CPUC’s fire risk maps.
About Southern California Edison
An Edison International (NYSE:EIX) company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of approximately 15 million via 5 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California.
Safe Harbor Statement for Investors
Statements contained in this press release about the Woolsey Fire, and other statements that do not directly relate to a historical or current fact, are forward-looking statements. In this press release, the words "believes," "continuing to," "predict," "plan," "may," "will," and variations of such words and similar expressions, or discussions of strategy, plans or actions, are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Such statements reflect our current expectations; however, such statements necessarily involve risks and uncertainties. Actual results could differ materially from current expectations. Important factors that could cause different results include the timing and outcome of the investigations and internal review of the Woolsey Fire. Other important factors are discussed in Southern California Edison’s Form 10-K, most recent Form 10-Q and other reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which are available on our website: www.edisoninvestor.com. Edison International and Southern California Edison Company have no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether due to new information, future events or otherwise.