SCE Reveals 31 MPH Winds and Dry Air Can Trigger Power Blackouts

Written by on October 21, 2020

Southern California Edison has consistently refused to reveal what triggers intentional power outages during high winds.

Just how high do the winds have to blow … before the power company will intentionally cut the power to Malibu … and other fire danger areas??
Before the city council … before citizens groups … and in interviews … Edison has refused to release the wind speed predictions that will make them turn off your lights.

Turns out … not very fast.

KBUU News has discovered the wind speed trigger buried deep in a 366-page report that Southern California Edison filed with the state three weeks ago.

Turns out … all it takes is a forecast of 31 mile per hour sustained winds … or 46 miles per hour wind gusts … to possibly trigger a PSPS … a Public Safeyy Power Shutoff.

Malibu gets forecasts like that … all the time.

In a typical year … according to meteorologists … eight Santa Ana events with wind speeds much faster than 31 miles per hour … or gusts above 46 miles pee hour … blow into Malibu.

Edison spokesman David Song tells KBUU News that any power company decision  to turn off the power is dynamic … it considers many factors.

One of those factors … a prediction of 31 mile per hour sustained winds … or 46 mile per hour gusts.

Wind speed is one of several factors … as it makes neighborhood by neighborhood decisions on whether to cut the power.

How dry will the air be?

How many trees are near power lines?

How dry is the brush?

What other concerns are there from local officials … like water pumps getting cut off?

And what are the specific conditions of the power lines in any particular area?

Still … the main triggering factor will be wind speeds … and a prediction of 31 mile per hour winds is the windspeed.

31 miles per hour on lines without plastic covering … 46 miles per hour on circuits that are 100 percent protected by insulation.

There are none of those in Malibu.

The state used to enforce a rule that required safe and reliable power service in 92 mile per hour gusts.

But after several deadly and disastrous fires … more than 120 killed statewide … the power companies were given the power to turn off the electricity when they worry about lines falling or sparking.

In effect … the 92 mile per hour gust standard was dropped … and Edison was given the power to set its own standards on when to shut off the electricity.

Edison has not revealed that standard … until it buried it on page 65 of a 366 page with a filing. 

[There are no radio stations in the database]