October 27, 2003

INLAND EMPIRE, Calif., Oct. 27, 2003—Southern California Edison officials called on customers to conserve power Monday as the utility coped with the many wildfires in the region. The wildfires disabled some transmission lines over the weekend.

Approximately 35,000 of the customers without power Monday were in San Bernardino and Ventura counties.  Approximately 5,000 customers in Forest Falls and Idyllwild were without power because SCE imposed protective power outages in bark beetle-infested areas on Sunday.  SCE imposed the protective outages because the high winds and the unprecedented presence of thousands of dead or dying trees threatening the power supply to its customers.

Officials said Monday that SCE expected to begin the process of re-energizing the circuits supplying Forest Falls and Idyllwild later Monday when the winds were expected to subside.  Officials said the circuits would first have to be inspected before being re-energized, a process that could take 24 hours or longer.

SCE estimates the fires damaged or downed approximately 550 power poles over the weekend.  SCE has approximately 82 crews in the field in the affected areas. Also on Monday, SCE issued a request for aid from neighboring utilities.

“For those customers who have lost their homes in the fires or who have had to evacuate and now face great uncertainty, we extend our deepest sympathy,” said Larry Grant, SCE vice president for power delivery.  “To our customers who have remained or are returning to your homes and businesses, we ask for your continued patience. We will work to get power back on quickly for you as soon as conditions make it possible for Edison crews to enter affected areas.”

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

  • Check on the medical needs of family and neighbors.
  • Use flashlights.  Don’t use candles, which can start fires.
  • Keep battery-powered radio with fresh batteries to stay informed.
  • Maintain at least three-quarters of a tank of gasoline in your vehicle(s). Gas station pumps do not operate during power outages.
  • Have alternate, back-up arrangements in place to keep perishable food chilled and fresh in the event of prolonged outages.  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.
  • Never connect a portable generator directly to a power line.  State law requires that customers inform us when a generator is being used at a home or business.  Call us at 1-800-655-4555.
  • Never touch a power line suspended in the air or lying on the ground.

For further information, customers may call SCE at 1-800-655-4555 or visit the utility’s Web site  at www.sce.com/barkbeetle.

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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.