SCE Crews Insulate Power Lines to Prepare for Active Wildfire Season
by Reggie Kumar
Along The Old Road in Valencia, Willie Rios and his crews are installing insulated power lines, work by Southern California Edison that is considered critical during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are working amid a challenging health crisis while practicing physical distancing.
“We’re in the field every day adhering to the physical distancing requirement while working on high-voltage power lines,” said Rios, an SCE foreman. “We’re still able to follow all safety and health guidelines by bringing in an extra bucket truck to keep the proper distance away.”
The crews are replacing six spans of bare wire with covered conductor near the I-5 Freeway. The insulated wire helps prevent power lines from arcing or sparking if a tree branch or metallic balloon blows into them during extreme weather.
“It’s really important that we maintain the grid right now because first responders, hospitals and supermarkets are relying on electricity,” said Rios, in partnership with IBEW Local 47, who has been with the company 37 years. “Our crews understand the importance of making sure the system is fully operational.”
He added, “They’re also away from their families and understand the importance of physical distancing to keep their own families healthy and safe.”
More than 25% of SCE’s service area is in high fire risk areas, so crews continue to work hard to install wildfire mitigation tools, such as insulated wire and technologies to prevent wildfires.
The utility filed its annual Wildfire Mitigation Plan- Opens in new window with the California Public Utilities Commission in February. It’s a roadmap of how SCE will continue to harden infrastructure, bolster situational awareness capabilities and enhance operational practices by harnessing the power of data and technology to keep communities safe.
“Southern California Edison is deferring noncritical work while moving forward with critical work to manage public safety and imminent reliability issues, reduce the risk of wildfires and the scale of Public Safety Power Shutoff events during wildfire season and keep our communities safe,” said Pedro Pizarro, president and CEO of Edison International, the parent company of SCE.