Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) | Moorpark, CA
You may also contact SCE Customer Service at (800) 655-4555 for information about PSPS or other matters related to your electric utility service.
While SCE proactively de-energized portions of Moorpark as early as 2019, the City was very dramatically impacted in late 2020 and early 2021. In the largest event, from January 19-21, SCE de-energized six of the ten circuits that serve Moorpark, turning off power to 8,362 customers for upwards of 40 hours. During these disastrous de-energization events, SCE struggled to effectively communicate with its customers and communities about its operational status, making the situation even worse. SCE’s recent PSPS Post Event Reports are linked below:
State Response to SCE’s 2020-21 PSPS De-Energization Events
In California, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has regulatory oversight of investor-owned utilities like SCE (local governments do not have regulatory authority). On January 19, 2021, CPUC President Marybel Batjer sent a letter to SCE expressing deep concerns with SCE’s execution of PSPS outages and ordered multiple SCE executives to appear before the CPUC at a public meeting to be held on January 26, 2021, and submit a Corrective Action Plan to the CPUC by February 12, 2021 explaining how SCE will improve its performance. She was specifically concerned with:
- Transparency of the PSPS decision-making process
- Execution of the notification process
- Coordination and communication with state and local governments
- Identification and notification of Medical Baseline and Access and Functional Needs customers
- Quality of PSPS post-event reports
At the CPUC’s January 26 meeting (watch video), SCE officials took questions and comments from the CPUC Commissioners, local government officials (including Moorpark officials), and members of the public for nearly five hours. As ordered by the CPUC, SCE then submitted its February 12 Corrective Action Plan to the CPUC.
The CPUC held a follow-up public meeting on March 1 (watch video) to discuss SCE’s Corrective Action Plan, with SCE officials to present the plan, answer questions, and receive CPUC Commissioner and public comments. Pursuant to CPUC direction, SCE continues to provide bi-weekly updates to the CPUC to demonstrate ongoing compliance and adherence to its Corrective Action Plan.
SCE’s Response to 2020-21 PSPS De-Energization Events
In addition to the CPUC meetings and February 12 Corrective Action Plan described above, SCE has undertaken efforts to prevent PSPS outages and mitigate the effects when they do occur. On March 23, 2021, SCE hosted an online community meeting (SCE advises they will soon post the video recording) specifically for the Moorpark and Simi Valley communities, which had both been severely impacted by PSPS outages. At the meeting, SCE presented key actions to improve their PSPS performance and took questions from the public. Key takeaways during the meeting include:
- Expedited Grid Hardening: As required in its Corrective Action Plan, SCE identified its circuits that were most frequently impacted by PSPS outages (defined as four or more de-energization events since 2019). SCE then analyzed those 72 circuits across its service area to identify ways to reduce the need for potential PSPS outages (while acknowledging it could not guarantee no PSPS outages if extreme enough weather occurred). Grid hardening options include segmenting circuits, relocating wires underground, installing switches, installing improved weather detection infrastructure, and switching to insulated wires as well as operational changes such as switching protocols and using in-person observers.
- Improved Communications: SCE committed to improving the frequency, accuracy, and clarity of communications of potential and actual PSPS de-energization events.
- Improved Mitigation Programs and Outreach: SCE explained how they will improve outreach and awareness of its wildfire mitigation programs, including portable power rebates, critical care backup batteries, hotel discounts, income-qualified solar installations, and other rebate programs.
SCE shared the map below at its March 23 community meeting for Moorpark and Simi Valley showing the circuits that will benefit from their Expedited Grid Hardening efforts.
(Note: We have asked SCE for a higher-resolution version of this map and will post once received)
- Green/Blue Areas: SCE has implemented operational changes (green) or will switch customers to adjacent circuits (blue), so these areas are now very unlikely to be subject to a PSPS de-energization event
- Yellow Areas: SCE has identified PSPS mitigations and will complete construction by October 1, 2021 (intended to be completed before the next Santa Ana Wind season)
- No Color: These areas were not subject to enough PSPS de-energization events to qualify for SCE’s Expedited Grid Hardening efforts according to its February 12 Corrective Action Plan.
The City remains concerned that some affected Moorpark neighborhoods – notably Varsity Park and the neighborhoods near Moorpark College – remain subject to significant PSPS risk and will continue to push SCE and state officials to eliminate this risk.
City’s Response to 2020-21 PSPS De-Energization Events
Although the City does not have direct regulatory control over SCE or PSPS outages, City officials have been actively engaged with SCE and state legislators and regulators to address the impacts of PSPS outages on Moorpark. In 2021, City activities have included:
- January 26 CPUC Hearing: In addition to verbal testimony from Mayor Janice Parvin (meeting video), the City submitted written comments expressing concerns with SCE’s poor performance.
- SCE Corrective Action Plan: City staff reviewed SCE’s February 12 Corrective Action Plan, with particular interest in SCE’s plans to analyze frequently-impacted circuits for expedited grid hardening efforts. While SCE’s failure to take the actions contained in the plan two years ago when it began de-energizing circuits is confoundingly frustrating, the plan does contain meaningful changes that, if implemented, will reduce (though not eliminate) the impacts of PSPS in many portions of Moorpark. Moorpark officials did attend the CPUC’s March 1 public meeting on SCE’s Corrective Action Plan, but did not provide verbal or written comments.
- March 23 SCE Community Meeting for Moorpark/Simi Valley: City officials were active participants in the community meeting, pushing SCE to expand its grid hardening efforts to expeditiously remove PSPS risk from the rest of Moorpark. While SCE said they remained committed to doing so, they did not provide a timeline.
- State Legislation: City officials have had multiple conversations with State Senator Henry Stern and State Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (who represent Moorpark in the California legislature) to discuss ways to address PSPS outages and their impacts. Many options were explored, and Senator Stern has introduced legislation (Senate Bill No. SB 533) in Sacramento that would legally require investor-owned utilities (such as SCE) to harden infrastructure to eliminate the need for PSPS de-energization events for circuits that have been repeatedly subject to PSPS outages. The bill would ensure SCE expedites its grid hardening efforts for repeatedly impacted circuits, as well as support development of microgrids that would help provide electricity during power outages.
- Public Information During PSPS Outages: The City shares what limited information we receive from SCE during PSPS de-energization events with the public through our social media outlets (follow us on Facebook and Twitter). However, we do not have access to SCE’s internal communications systems and can only share information they share with us. The City continues to be frustrated with SCE’s poor communication during PSPS outages.
Additionally, because City infrastructure and facilities have also been subject to multiple PSPS de-energization events, City officials have created and repeatedly implemented PSPS protocols to ensure it can continue to provide municipal services, including police and other emergency services, traffic signals, debris removal, building inspection, and other critical services during extreme weather events and power outages.
What are Public Safety Power Shutoffs?
Over the last decade, California has experienced increased, intense, and record-breaking wildfires in Northern and Southern California. These fires have resulted in devastating loss of life and billions of dollars in damage to property and infrastructure. Electric utility infrastructure has historically been responsible for less than ten percent of reported wildfires; however, fires attributed to power lines comprise roughly half of the most destructive fires in California history. With the continuing threat of wildfire, utilities may proactively cut power to electrical lines that may fail in certain weather conditions to reduce the likelihood that their infrastructure could cause or contribute to a wildfire. This effort to reduce the risk of fires caused by electric infrastructure by temporarily turning off power to specific areas is called a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS). However, a PSPS can leave communities and essential facilities without power, which brings its own risks and hardships, particularly for vulnerable communities and individuals.
Who is in charge of Public Safety Power Shutoffs?
Southern California Edison owns and operates the electrical distribution system in Moorpark (and across Ventura County) and initiates Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) when they determine that weather conditions pose an extreme risk of igniting a wildfire. The PSPS program is regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and by state law. Local governments do not have any direct regulatory or jurisdictional authority over the PSPS program, although the City of Moorpark does work to mitigate impacts of PSPS power outages locally. Please visit the below websites for more history, background, and resources for PSPS de-energization events:
How have Public Safety Power Shutoffs affected Moorpark?
Moorpark has been affected by SCE’s Public Safety Power Shutoffs in 2019, 2020, and 2021. Many times, SCE has de-energized significant swaths of Moorpark during these events, sometimes for periods of multiple days. The most recent large-scale PSPS event took place from January 19-21, during which SCE proactively de-energized six of the ten circuits that serve Moorpark, turning off power to 8,362 customers for upwards of 40 consecutive hours. The outage included most of the community’s critical Los Angeles Avenue corridor where many of Moorpark’s businesses and employers are located.