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SDG&E replaces 68 feet of power cable after multiple long outages in La Jolla’s Country Club area

Houses on Fairway Road in the Country Club area of La Jolla have had multiple power outages recently.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

After a series of power outages in La Jolla’s Country Club area in recent months — some lasting up to 19 hours — San Diego Gas & Electric has replaced a cable that helps deliver power to more than 160 houses.

The outages started in May with an unplanned 17-hour shutdown just before Memorial Day weekend. A shorter outage followed on July 1. Then the power was out for 19 hours — from 2:30 p.m. Aug. 13 to 9:30 a.m. Aug. 14 — and again from 10 p.m. Aug. 14 until about 4 a.m. the next day.

“I’ve lived in San Diego for 20 years and never experienced the frequency of outages as I have in this home this year,” said a Fairway Road resident who would only provide her first name, Theresa, saying “we are very private people.”

“Certainly when there is bad weather, we understand, but this was not weather-related. It’s the frequency that has me concerned. I’m concerned about the equipment.”

The frequency and duration of the outages also troubled fellow Fairway resident Karen, who also would not provide her last name.

She said she was so concerned that she started tracking the outages. “I’ve lived in this house since 2001 and we haven’t had those kinds of outages in the past. When we had one right before Memorial Day weekend, I wondered if it was something to be concerned about … and 17 hours was a long time. So I started paying attention.”

Theresa, Karen and a handful of neighbors contacted SDG&E and checked its outage map at sdge.com, which provides estimates of when power will be back on.

Fairway Road is a short street in the Country Club area of La Jolla.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

“They kept changing the time of when the power would be restored,” Theresa said. “First it was 6 p.m., then 8 p.m. and then 10 at night. We were both calling SDG&E past 10 when their outage map was still showing 10 p.m. for when the power would be restored. ... Sometimes when you call and report these outages, you reach a standard voicemail response. Sometimes I would get a person, but the person doesn’t have information.”

Karen said she was able to reach one person, who didn’t have any details.

After this month’s 19-hour outage began, SDG&E crews and engineers were onsite to try to determine the source of the problem. Workers investigated a nearby transformer, but when that turned out not to be the issue, they started examining cables that deliver power.

An SDG&E employee who spoke on condition of anonymity said cables had to be “de-energized” as part of the diagnosis and confirmation process, cutting power to 168 houses intermittently over that weekend. Power was temporarily re-routed from other cables to the houses, but that also had to be turned off while the primary line was being fixed.

The culprit was 68 feet of cable next to La Jolla Country Club.

“That cable was old and we replaced it in its entirety,” according to the employee, who said the replacement should prevent future outages.

“At some point in the future we would like to put additional technology in place to isolate future faults and identify them quicker,” he added. “We may work on that portion again in the future but would notice the residents at that time.”

According to SDG&E, power outages can occur for a variety of reasons, “including, but not limited to, emergency repairs for damaged equipment, routine maintenance for reliability, expanding the grid for future growth, and preventing wildfires in prone conditions.”

“No matter the outage reason, it is SDG&E’s goal to restore power as quickly and as safely as possible,” the company says.

When an outage happens, SDG&E recommends using a flashlight rather than a candle for light; turning off major appliances that were running when the power went out and unplugging screens, but leaving one light turned on so residents know when the power is restored; and keeping emergency supplies on hand.

Those supplies include:

  • A flashlight with fresh batteries
  • A portable battery-powered radio so you can keep up with the news
  • A telephone that doesn’t depend on electricity. Cordless phones will not function during an outage.
  • Easy-to-prepare, nonperishable foods, including packaged snacks and bottled water and juices
  • A wind-up or battery-operated clock
  • A first-aid kit
  • A manual can opener

SDG&E also offers a notification system for updates on outages through sdge.com/myaccount, where customers can create an online account. From there, users can click on the “Alerts and subscriptions” tab and select “Outage notifications” from the drop-down menu. ◆