Letters to the Editor: Power shut-offs to prevent fires are anything but random, says Edison


To the editor: The L.A. Times stresses the need to accelerate efforts to reduce wildfire risk and mitigate the impact of wildfires. We agree. Your editorials, however, miss some critical information when they suggest that Southern California Edison is waiting too long to address the wildfire challenge or that our use of public safety power shut-offs (PSPS) is “random.”

We are not waiting to take steps to mitigate wildfire risk. For more than a decade, we have taken aggressive measures to build a smarter, stronger grid and implement new technologies that can reduce wildfire risk.

Among the measures we have already taken — as called for in one of the editorials — are inspections of all overhead power lines in high-fire-risk areas. We’re replacing overhead power lines with insulated wire that will not spark when objects are blown into these lines. We have installed thousands of devices that can more quickly stop the flow of electricity when they detect anomalies, and we plan to install many more.


While we understand The Times’ focus on the challenge of implementing PSPSs, our implementation has been far from “random.” In fact, we use a combination of weather modeling, real-time weather monitoring, data analysis and professional judgment. When we do find it necessary to implement a PSPS, we strive to minimize the number of impacted customers by de-energizing sections — rather than the entire length — of power lines.

We know PSPSs work. Patrols we have conducted after these events have found dozens of instances of equipment damage and tree branches contacting power lines, which could have ignited a fire.

Just as importantly, Edison is focused on the real end game — combating climate change. In 2017, we began implementing our Clean Power and Electrification Pathway and, just a few weeks ago, built on that program by announcing our Pathway 2045 plan. As the L.A. Times raises public consciousness of the complex issues related to wildfires and climate change, Edison is working every day to address those two issues that are so closely linked and so critically important to the future of California.

Phil Herrington, Pomona

The writer is senior vice president of transmission and distribution at Southern California Edison.