The past week or so has been filled with news of wildfire. One in Riverside County and the other near Sylmar have captured the attention of most of Southern California, including Big Bear.
While Big Bear Valley has been spared from catastrophic wildfires of late, Big Bear is not immune to what could happen with one errant spark, one cigarette thrown out the window, one misplaced campfire. In recent years, the most devastating wildfires have been blamed on utility companies, primarily electric utility providers.
That has led to prevention measures throughout the state in an attempt to avoid more fires and loss of life and property as a result. One of those prevention measures is the Public Safety Power Shutoff.
When conditions are ripe for wildfire, power companies implement the measure, cutting off power in high-risk areas. The conditions include high temperatures with low humidity and wind.
It’s not known yet if the power shutdowns are a benefit as the measure is new. What is known, at least in terms of PG&E’s power shut down, there are plenty of challenges when cutting power to California. The plan is new, there are bound to be hiccups that weren’t anticipated.
Big Bear is served by Bear Valley Electric Service, which gets power from Southern California Edison. In the past couple of weeks, Bear Valley Electric has issued alerts to Big Bear electricity customers of possible power outages due to implementation of the Public Safety Power Shutoff. Luckily, Big Bear didn’t go dark. Yet that didn’t stop people from complaining and voicing concerns.
We understand the concerns. Being without power isn’t fun. Where are the flashlights, do we have wood for heat, will the food in the refrigerator spoil, how will I keep my cellphone charged? And those with medical needs are even more concerned.
That’s why the alerts are issued several days in advance when Bear Valley Electric Service, or any utility company, becomes aware of the possibility of a power shutdown. It allows residents and businesses to prepare for the potential power outage.
We don’t know if the power shutoffs can be credited for preventing any potential wildfires just yet. We do know there are operational hurdles to overcome. We encourage leaders to solve those problems quickly.
We aren’t willing to say shutting down power is a waste of time. It seems that doing without power for a short period, is worth the price of saving a home, a life or an entire community.