My Turn with Dean Kellio -SDG&E power outages

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It would seem that SDG&E’s leadership is following in the footsteps of El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells. Whereas El Cajon’s mayor and City Council’s solution to helping and caring for their city’s homeless is to stop feeding them, SDG&E’s solution to extinguishing wild land fires is to cut off power to resident’s wells and booster pumps that provide water to extinguish fires.

It would seem that SDG&E’s leadership is following in the footsteps of El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells. Whereas El Cajon’s mayor and City Council’s solution to helping and caring for their city’s homeless is to stop feeding them, SDG&E’s solution to extinguishing wild land fires is to cut off power to resident’s wells and booster pumps that provide water to extinguish fires.

Higher than usual wind velocity should not be the criteria used by the SDG&E to shut off power to thousands of its rural customers for days at a time. Residents trying to protect their own property and lives are then forced to use generators, if they own one, in order to have water pressure to fill their fire protection tanks or to have pressure to use water hoses to wet down their home’s exterior.

If high winds are causing power lines to arc and cause fires then maybe the power company should design and implement a better distribution system or at the very least bolster its existing system to ensure their high tension lines are stable in high winds. Or if the root cause of wild land fires is overgrown vegetation that comes into contact with its wires then maybe better line clearance protocols and maintenance should be implemented.

Back country residents all know that every time we have Santa Ana winds or gusts beyond 20-30 miles an hour, SDG&E turns off our lights. Usually, our telephone landlines will still work, enabling us to call for help in an emergency, but this last forced, premeditative outage shut down  power that supplies AT&T’s equipment—leaving backcountry residents without water, lights or the ability to call for help.

My father is turning 90 years old next February and SDG&E left him in the dark, without water, phone service or without any means to heat his home. Many more of you were in the same or worse situation as needed medical equipment didn’t have power to perform the functions needed for the sick and elderly to survive. 

This time, shutting off the power to our phone company’s equipment added a new, extra layer of danger to this last forced power outage.

It’s clear that these large companies, that supplies power to all of us, have too much power (no pun intended) and on the surface it would seem that state regulators in charge of overseeing them are not doing their job to monitor if they are completing scheduled maintenance on their distribution systems. These agencies, it would appear, are also giving their stamp of approval to turn off our lights.

Turning off our power is a bad solution to avoiding lawsuits. SDG&E should be required to provide a safe distribution system along with enough annual maintenance to ensure its customers have power during an emergency. I want you to think about who is benefitting from these power outages the next time you’re sitting in the dark with no phone or water playing monopoly. 

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