June 13, 2003

INLAND EMPIRE, Calif., June 13, 2003—Southern California Edison (SCE) is alerting residents and businesses in the mountainous regions of San Bernardino and Riverside counties that they will likely have to endure longer electric service interruptions for the foreseeable future due to a safety precaution the utility has instituted in order to cope with dead tree hazards posed by bark beetle infestation.

The safety precaution, which will remain in effect for the foreseeable future until conditions improve, requires an SCE representative to patrol an interrupted circuit (power lines) before it is re-energized, which requires additional time.

“We’re asking our customers to continue to be patient as we work as quickly and safely as possible to restore electric power when interruptions occur for the foreseeable future,” said Bob Jensen, SCE public affairs director.

Hundreds of thousands of dead or dying trees in San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego counties have been weakened by years of drought and widespread infestation by an insect called the bark beetle.  Last March, Gov. Gray Davis proclaimed a state of emergency exists in the three counties.

To better cope with any scheduled or unscheduled power outage, SCE advises customers to:

  • Check on the medical needs of family and friends.
  • Use flashlights.  Don’t use candles, which can start fires.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible during an outage. A well-filled, unopened freezer will keep food frozen for hours without electricity.
  • Turn off all electrical equipment in use at the time of a service interruption, including sensitive electronic components.  Leave one light bulb turned on to signal that power has been restored.

Anyone finding a tree threatening or contacting a power line should notify SCE at 1-(800) 655-4555.  Trees near or touching power lines should only be trimmed or removed by experienced arborists who are qualified to perform such work.

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An Edison International company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of more than 12 million via 4.5 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within central, coastal and Southern California.