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In a letter dated August 16, 2013, San Diego Gas and Electric advised residents of a planned power outage scheduled to commence on August 24, 2013 at 10pm, and last until August 25, 2013 at 8am. The planned outage was to allow for substation maintenance work.

At about 10:20pm on Saturday, August 24, the power went off. Driving through the area, the outage appeared to be bounded by Main Street, Jamacha Road, Granite Hills Road, Washington Street and First Street. The blacked out area is predominately residential with several small businesses including convenience stores, restaurants, and gas stations.

On Sunday, August 25, the power was not restored at 8am. With temperatures forecast to reach 100 degrees, residents without power begun to gather on their front lawns, questioning the decision of the scheduled work, on what is historically one of the hottest days of the year.

At 11am, Sunday, August 25, power had not yet been restored, and there was no report of the outage existing on the San Diego Gas and Electric website. A recorded telephone message at SDG&E advised that power would be restored by 11am.

El Cajon Outage Information

El Cajon Outage Information

At 1pm, Sunday, August 25, power had still not been restored, and as temperatures reached 95 degrees on Second Street, the recorded telephone message from SDG&E had a revised estimate for the restoration of power, for 11pm, 25 hours after it began.

At about the same time, the National Weather Service issued an advisory warning of approaching severe weather, including hail the size of pennies, flooding, and dangerous lighting. County resident Stephanie Carslon, who had escaped the outage to Lake Moreno, Campo, reported heavy rain and hail heading west towards El Cajon. With no power, residents had to rely on word of mouth being placed as they braced for an incoming storm.

Shortly after 3pm, Sunday, August 25, the first details of the outage appeared on the SDG&E website, with a revised estimate for the restoration of time for early evening. Temperatures in El Cajon at the time had reached 99 degrees.

At 8pm, a customer service representative began arriving at the doors of residents afflicted with medical conditions, that require the continuity of electricity. Service representative Victoria arrived in the darkness knocking on doors, offering apologies. When asked how wide spread the outage was, she was vague. When asked for an estimated return of service she did not have one. She did however advise that she was not aware of the outage until she was called at 6:30pm Sunday evening.

At 8:45pm Sunday, power was finally restored, in excess of twelve hours late on the planned outage, and 23 hours after it started. Throughout the neighborhood, washing machines and dryers were heard to start up, in preparation for the first day of school the next day.

San Diego Gas and Electric have previously advised that effective September 1, El Cajon residents will be levied a rate increase of up to 25 percent over their regular bill, to help pay for the energy from renewable sources, which is more expensive to produce that natural gas.

The failure of SDG&E to fulfill their scheduled work in a timely manner, has left El Cajon residents questioning the competency of the authority. "Scheduling work in El Cajon on one of the hottest weekends of the year appear ridiculous,” resident of 26 years Joe Bourgeois said.

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Dave Rice Aug. 26, 2013 @ 11:04 p.m.

I don't know that the rate increase is necessarily tied to "green energy" improvements (which are debatable in benefit anyhow, given last week's cover story). But I'm pretty sure that natural gas is still natural gas, and that any "green" power will come in the form of electricity generated by wind/hydro/solar, not as a replacement for gas.


John Kitchin Aug. 27, 2013 @ 12:27 p.m.

Very good and thorough story. Thank you. (I edit one of the other newspapers, but also write and comment for the Reader.)


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