At least once a month, residents of the Cali Lake RV community, nestled in a quiet canyon off a rural part of Soledad Canyon Road, have had their power shut off due to Southern California Edison’s Public Safety Power Shutoffs.
Generators have helped some of the 285 people who live at the Canyon Country RV but not all, ultimately affecting internet connectivity and the preservation of groceries for some families amid the pandemic, according to resident and general manager George Freeman.
“There are people here who have (had their groceries go bad) because they don’t have the luxury of having a generator,” he said. “Some people’s lifelines are their internet connection, for instance, because out here in the canyon there is no phone service whatsoever.”
Edison has told them they can get reimbursed for groceries and generators, but the process is not simple, according to Freeman.
“If we can get our receipt and pass it on to (Edison) and they would reimburse us with a certain amount of money back, but it’s got to jump through so many hoops. It’s unbelievable,” he said.
Acton and Agua Dulce have faced five PSPS events since mid-October and the areas are once again facing the possibility of on-and-off power through next week following an extended red flag warning. The National Weather Service issued the alert through 4 p.m. Saturday for the Santa Clarita, San Fernando and Ventura valleys due to conditions that are favorable for critical fire behavior.
As of Friday, portions of several Santa Clarita Valley ZIP codes either had their power shut off or were under consideration. SoCal Edison officials confirmed Friday monitoring would continue through Wednesday, Jan. 20 at midnight, but that the utility would try to restore power in between outages to those affected.
“We will make every effort to temporarily restore power to affected customers, even for a short period of time, as breaks in the weather conditions permit and it is safe to re-energize,” said Edison spokesman Reggie Kumar, adding, “If the weather conditions subside, then we’ll be able to restore power but then turn the power back off.”
SoCal Edison launched its Public Safety Power Shutoff program about three years ago to de-energize circuits in areas where weather conditions pose a high risk for wildfires.
The on-and-off shutoffs have caused frustration to property owners who say they continue to pay despite ongoing events. Among them is Cali Lake owner Stewart Silver.
“Our average bills are $25,000 a month. That’s what we spend on power every month,” he said. “I wouldn’t even mind working something out if I knew I can count on the power company. It’s important not for me but for the people that live there.”
Agua Dulce resident Rosemary Moggatt said she has experienced intermittent power for up to three days.
“Every time it happens, computers crash, food goes bad, appliances freeze up and landscapes dry out, among other things,” she said. “Yet (Edison) continues this horribly unethical practice without regard to the consequences and dangers for thousands of their customers.”
State Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, and Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares, R-Santa Clarita, as well as L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes these local affected areas, have said they are looking at how to lessen the impact on ratepayers.
“I know first-hand how disruptive these power shut-offs are for families who are distance learning and working from home during the pandemic, let alone for those who rely on electricity to pump their water,” Valladares wrote in a statement via email. “I am working closely with Southern California Edison, my colleagues in the Legislature and my constituents affected by these shutoffs to mitigate their impact and find a way to ensure energy is available to everyone.”
Wilk’s office has reached out to the California Public Utilities Commission to receive clarification on their rules which allow for the shutoffs, but have yet to hear back, according to Wilk spokeswoman Eileen Ricker.
A community crew vehicle is expected to be made available for those affected from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. through Sunday at 33201 Agua Dulce Canyon Road to provide power shutoff information, light snacks, water, small resiliency devices and personal protective equipment.
To check the status of an update, utility customers can sign up to receive alerts via sce.com/wildfire/psps-alerts or call 1-800-655-4555.