With climate change, hot weather can be a year-round event in many parts of California, but summer days remain some of the hottest.
Yet, even when the weather sends temperatures soaring, the electric grid must be maintained and updated to ensure its reliability.
Southern California Edison has developed new criteria that takes into consideration extreme temperatures and humidity to better schedule needed maintenance outages in the summer and fall.
These changes were developed to limit the impacts of outages on customers and help ensure the safety of field crews. They include:
- Scheduling outages earlier in the day or overnight.
- Limiting the length of time so the work is completed before the worst heat of the day.
- Bundling maintenance jobs when possible so only one outage is needed.
When temperatures rise well above 100 degrees, maintenance outages may, on a case-by-case basis, be rescheduled to another day.
We’ve listened to our customers. We are working to minimize the impacts.”
“We’ve listened to our customers,” said Tomaso Giannelli, a senior manager on SCE’s outage communications team. “We are working to minimize the impacts.”
Maintenance outages are scheduled in advance to repair or upgrade vital equipment needed so the electrical system can work at its best. These outages also help prevent more serious unplanned emergency repairs that could impact larger numbers of customers and take longer to address.
“It’s just like your car,” Giannelli said. “You can’t run it all day every day without getting the oil changed or you are going to break down.”
In the past few years, SCE has upgraded the power grid to accommodate and add new and helpful technology. This new technology helps to isolate the area being worked on, reducing the number of customers impacted by the outage. The technology also provides timelier information when outages occur because of weather or damage to a pole or transformer.
Last year, SCE conducted nearly 32,000 maintenance outages. This year, about 35,000 are expected. Because so much work needs to be scheduled, some maintenance work must be completed during summer and fall months.
However, SCE is continuing to improve planning and scheduling maintenance outages to reduce impact to customers. In 2017, more than 90 percent of all maintenance outages began as scheduled and 74 percent ended within SCE restoration guidelines. At times, delays in completion are necessary in order to safely complete the work.
SCE also has implemented several changes to improve emergency outage response including rerouting circuits or using generators if crews determine the outage could last an extended period.
Giannelli urges customers to sign up for the automated notifications and reminds them to always have a plan in place for an outage or disaster.
Here are some other outage tips:
- Use the SCE online outage center or the mobile app to learn about outages in your area or to report them. You can also report outages to customer service at 800-611-1911.
- Customers can sign up via phone, text, email or TTY for emergency outage alerts on SCE.com. If there is a repair outage lasting more than 30 minutes, customers will receive a notice within the hour.
- Customers on life-support equipment should notify SCE so the utility is aware of their special needs in an outage. They may also be able to get a break on their electrical bill through the company’s medical baseline program.
- Most customers with solar power remain connected to the grid with systems that automatically turn off the power during an outage to prevent “feedback” that could endanger SCE workers making repairs. More information about solar power and how it works is available on SCE’s website.