February 8, 2008

TULARE, Calif., Feb. 8, 2008 – Southern California Edison (SCE) will stress the importance of electrical safety for agricultural workers at next week’s World Agricultural Expo here. The event is set for  Feb. 12-14 at the International Agri-Center in Tulare, Calif. (Media day is Monday, Feb. 11).

“Farming is one of the most dangerous occupations in the nation,” said Jack Sahl, SCE’s director for corporate environmental health and safety. “We want everybody to work safely by encouraging workers to use simple but effective steps to avoid accidentally contacting electrical equipment.”
The National Safety Council reports an average of 60 electrocutions on U.S. farms every year. With that in mind, SCE representatives  will be providing continuous safety demonstrations  each day of the expo.

SCE offers this advice to help keep workers safe on the job:

  • Always assume that power lines are energized and potentially dangerous, including service drops that run from utility poles to barns, outbuildings, and irrigation pumps.  Overhead power lines are not covered with insulating materials.
  • Always look for overhead and underground power lines before starting work. Be sure to notify all workers of any wire locations.
  • Never raise irrigation pipes into the air. Carry irrigation pipes, ladders, and tools parallel to the ground to avoid hitting power lines.
  • Call Underground Service Alert (USA) at 811 at least two working days before you dig, till, or move dirt in any way. USA will mark underground utilities so you can work safely.
  • Look for overhead power lines when securing a load. Park vehicles safely away from overhead power lines and look up before throwing tie-downs over a load.
  • Field workers should always be sure that equipment is in a lowered position prior to moving it. Moving grain augers, hay balers and large field equipment in an elevated position could result in electrocution if it contacts overhead power lines.
  • Always stay at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines. Maintain a 10-foot clearance when using booms, harvesters, dump trucks, tools, or equipment.
  • If you must work within 10 feet of power lines, contact SCE in advance to make safety arrangements. Clearly mark boundaries to keep workers and equipment a safe distance from overhead lines.
  • Use a spotter: Equipment operators need a designated spotter who can help keep them clear of power lines and other safety hazards.

SCE offers a diverse portfolio of energy-efficiency and demand-response programs designed especially for agricultural customers.  Information on the programs is at www.sce.com. At the expo, for example, SCE will showcase its voluntary agricultural and pumping interruptible program, which offers a credit on the customer’s electricity bill for allowing SCE to shut off a pump when power supplies are tight. SCE’s agricultural energy-efficiency program includes comprehensive energy audits, technical efficiency analysis, testing of potable water pumps, incentives, and rebates. In fact, more than $2.27 million in energy-efficiency incentives and rebates have been paid to agricultural customers since 2006, resulting in a savings of nearly 43 million kilowatt hours. 
Customers can also learn year-round about ways to save energy, money, and the environment at SCE’s Agricultural Technology Application Center (AGTAC) the company’s high-tech, educational, and training facility in Tulare showcasing the benefits of energy efficiency to customers in the Central Valley.  Additional bilingual and evening classes were recently added to the curriculum at AGTAC. In addition, customers are encouraged to borrow energy-monitoring devices from SCE’s tool-lending library. For more information about AGTAC, go to www.sce.com/agtac.

Media Contact: Vanessa McGrady, (626) 302-2255

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An Edison International (NYSE:EIX) company, Southern California Edison is the largest electric utility in California, serving a population of more than 13 million via 4.8 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within central, coastal and Southern California.