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SDG&E Modifies Plan To Shut Off Power In High Fire Risk Conditions

Audio

Aired 8/16/10

San Diego Gas and Electric has not reached a consensus with a group of stakeholders who oppose the company’s plan to shut off power if winds cause a high fire risk. The power company believes it has the authority to go ahead with a modified version of the plan.

San Diego Gas and Electric has not reached a consensus with a group of stakeholders who oppose the company’s plan to shut off power if winds cause a high fire risk. The power company believes it has the authority to go ahead with a modified version of the plan.

Nine months of meetings between SDG&E and a large group of stakeholders have now yielded more than 60 pages of suggestions of how to make San Diego safer in the event of a wildfire.

But an analysis is not yet complete to compare the benefits with the potential risks of shutting off power when winds get too high.

Stephanie Donovan of SDG&E acknowledges the state’s Public Utilities Commission rejected their shut-off plan last year and ordered the company to meet with stakeholders before resubmitting it.

But she says they may not reach a consensus by this fire season. In the meantime, the company has a modified shut-off plan.

“We have to operate our system safety,” Donovan said. “Our decision may not please everyone, but we don’t need to seek authority or approval by the stakeholders for what we intend to do this fire season, should a situation warrant.”

Donovan says SDG&E has installed an additional 80 weather stations around the backcountry to measure heat and wind speeds. The company will also have crews out monitoring weather conditions. She says that means the fewest number of people possible would be affected by a power shut down.

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