SDG&E Curtails Service to Prevent Fires

By Published On: May 15, 2014

More than 2,200 San Diego Gas & Electric customers remained without power at press time May 15 as fires continued to burn throughout northern San Diego County amid high winds and record heat. As winds whipped up on May 14, San Diego Gas & Electric issued an alert to customers that it had turned off selected circuits in wind-prone canyons and hillside areas to prevent any downed power lines from sparking wildfires. The utility also activated both its commercial and residential demand response programs on May 14 and 15 to stretch energy supplies. Despite the utility’s moves to prevent electrical-related fires and conserve energy, fires erupted in nine places throughout the county—in-cluding one in a coastal canyon just south of the closed down San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station on Camp Pendleton. In response, plant operator Southern California Edison on May 14 evacuated 13 non-essential employees and moved its own in-house firefighters into position at the southern edge of the facility to douse vegetation and hold back the fire. “We will continue to monitor fires near Camp Pendleton and support firefighting efforts,” stated Edison vice president and chief nuclear officer Tom Palmisano. He added that despite the close proximity of the fire, it did not “pose a safety issue” at San Onofre. Meanwhile, additional fires on Camp Pendleton prompted the Marine Corps to evacuate some housing complexes and a weapons storage facility. To the south in Carlsbad, according to firefighting officials, 22 housing units were destroyed, including one apartment building and four single family homes. Two commercial buildings also burned. More than 11,000 people were evacuated in Carlsbad, San Marcos, and other areas where fires burned. While the fires were centered in San Diego, record high temperatures throughout most of the state prompted Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, and other utilities to appeal for conservation from their customers on May 14, when temperatures rose above 100 degrees, even in some coastal areas. To maximize available power resources, the California Independent System Operator May 14 restricted power plant and transmission system maintenance. Temperatures May 15 at press time were expected to go even higher than on May 14, although the Santa Ana winds were expected to lessen and most of the fires in San Diego County were dying down, according to San Diego county sheriff William Gore.

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