What is a PSPS? Public Safety Power Shutoffs Explained

What is a PSPS? Public Safety Power Shutoffs Explained

High winds and other adverse weather conditions combine to increase the risk of wildfire in some of the communities we serve. In the interest of public safety, we may find it necessary to shut off power to reduce wildfire risk. In response to the High Wind and Red Flag Warning in effect through Dec. 8, issued by the National Weather Service, we have notified approximately 50,483 customers about the possibility of widespread Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) extending throughout the week. For the latest updates on communities and the number of customers affected, visit sdge.com/ready.

But first, what is a PSPS? How do they contribute to public safety?

Reasons for Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS)

As California’s climate conditions have changed, the traditional idea of a fire “season” has evolved into a year-long battle against stronger, faster wildfires. For this reason, we have spent more than a decade enhancing our wildfire safety program, which includes: fire hardening our infrastructure, building a fire science and meteorology department to better forecast and prepare for wildfires and implementing innovative technology like our weather stations, camera network, drones and fire prediction modeling to watch for potential fire threats. Learn more about our award-winning wildfire safety program at sdge.com/wildfiresafety.

Even with all our investments to reduce the risk of wildfire, there may be times when we still have to shut off power to electrical circuits. During windy conditions, flying debris can damage our power lines and create sparks that could cause ignition. Turning off customers' power is not something we take lightly, but a PSPS may be necessary to ensure the safety of our communities and employees.

What to Expect

When possible, we will communicate directly with our customers through our Emergency Notification System by phone, text, or email in advance of an event. We will also notify local media outlets and post information on our website and social media channels.

If there is the potential for a PSPS, here’s what you can expect:

  • Early Warning Notification: When possible, communications will occur 24-48 hours prior, and again before shutting off power and throughout the event until power is restored.
  • Ongoing Updates: We will provide ongoing updates through social media, local news outlets and our website.
  • Safety Inspections: After extreme weather has passed, we will inspect the lines/equipment in affected areas to determine if there is any damage to the electrical infrastructure. Damaged equipment must be repaired before power can be safely restored.
  • Power Restoration: Power outages could last multiple days (depending on the severity of the weather and other factors). Everyone is encouraged to have an emergency preparedness plan in place, not just in case of PSPS but for other emergencies as well. Emergencies can happen any time. 

Outage Resources

Our new PSPS mobile app, Alerts by SDG&E, is a great tool to help you stay on top of information about potential and active PSPS events, including estimated restoration times.

We recognize that power outages are disruptive and can create challenges; we appreciate your patience and understanding. For the latest outage and restoration information, refer to the outage map.

To further assist you during a PSPS, we may open drive-thru Community Resource Centers (CRC) located in affected communities. We have opened ten CRCs today. To find the one nearest to you, please visit here. These CRCs offer essential items like water, snacks, and device charging, and provide real-time information to those affected.

It is important to remember that while PSPS events are more likely to occur in high fire-risk areas in the backcountry, they have also occurred in coastal areas. Anyone in our region could be impacted by emergency events and need to be prepared with a plan. Additionally, it is also important that you provide us with your most up-to-date contact information so we can send you critical notifications. You can make updates via sdge.com/myaccount.

Being prepared is one of the best ways you can help yourself and your community.