During this Red Flag Warning period, many of our customers have lost power, and have questions about why power outages occur during extreme weather conditions and how and when power can be restored. We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding during these outages. We have prepared the FAQ below to address some of your questions.
Q: When does SDG&E turn off power for public safety?
If weather conditions pose an immediate threat to the electric grid, we will turn off power to protect public safety. Some factors include the circumstances of the emergency, wind speeds, temperature, humidity, field observations by SDG&E crews and information from fire agencies.
To learn more, visit sdge.com/wildfire-safety, where we have a short video explaining public safety power shutoffs, as well as the steps we take before implement a public safety power shutoff.
Q: How long will the power be out?
Power will remain out as long as the weather threatens the electric grid. Once wind speeds calm for a sustained period, our crews and our contracted firefighters will patrol power lines in affected areas to check for damage before power is restored. The patrol necessary to ensure safe restoration of power has begun.
Q. What is the process for restoring power?
Restoring power to customers can be a long process. First, we need to record reduced wind speeds for a sustained period, then allow 4–8 hours of daylight for SDG&E field crews to patrol the affected areas and deem it safe to restore power. When patrolling, crews are looking for safety hazards like downed lines, debris or tree branches caught on the line, broken hardware or issues related to communication wires. If there is any damage to the power lines or poles, repairs must be made first before power can be restored.
Q. Why can’t SDG&E restore power more quickly?
As mentioned earlier, before we can restore power, crews must patrol lines to assess whether there is any damage. It is difficult to predict how long a patrol might take, given the varied length of each power line, the terrain and whether aerial patrols are required. Some circuits are located in rural, mountainous areas that require a helicopter to patrol. In those cases, wind speeds need to be below 35 mph in order for the helicopter to fly safely.
Q. Where I live, I am not experiencing gusty winds. Why is my power turned off?
While your home may be located where winds have calmed, other parts of the power line or circuit serving your home may be located in an area experiencing windy conditions.
Q. I don’t live in an area where SDG&E turned off power, but I experienced a power outage. Why?
Even in areas where SDG&E did not turn off power for safety reasons, the power may be out for other reasons due to operational problems or other weather-related issues.