Electrical power was cut to more than 1,000 customers throughout San Diego’s rural backcountry areas Wednesday, part of a plan by San Diego Gas & Electric to reduce fire danger.

The utility “de-energized proactively” four circuits between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., said Hanan Eisenman of SDG&E. He said none had been switched back on as of 1:30 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Supervisor Dianne Jacob.

The affected areas include Alpine, areas around the Viejas Indian Reservation, Descanso, Julian, Wynola, Pine Hills and Boulder Creek, Eisenman said.

San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, a fierce critic of SDG&E who represents East County communities, asked the utility to shut off electricity only as a last resort.

“I’m deeply concerned about any shutoffs because they pose risks to property and life in an emergency, especially in areas where firefighters need access to well water,” Jacob said. “I urge the utility to cut power only as a last resort and only if there’s an actual system failure that could ignite a wildfire.”

Downed power lines were blamed for a devastating wildfire that broke out east of Ramona and swept into Rancho Bernardo in 2007.

The utility subsequently developed its power shutoff plan so that any power lines that fall on hot, dry and windy days would not create sparks.

It was uncertain whether the circuits would be deenergized again Thursday.

“We’re monitoring the situation and we have a statutory obligation to operate our system safely,” Eisenman said.

He said the utility has replaced wood power poles in high-risk areas with steel poles and heavier wires that are more likely to withstand strong wind gusts.

–City News Service

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