The City of Ojai has received inquiries about helicopters and drones flying overhead throughout the Ojai Valley. These helicopters and drones belong to Southern California Edison (SCE) and are conducting an aerial survey as part of SCE’s Enhanced Overhead Inspection (EOI) program of examining telephone poles and other equipment for possible upgrade or replacement.

In a statement, SCE said it is repairing or replacing equipment in order to minimize ignition risk for wild fires.

The helicopters and drones use high-definition cameras and must fly at low level in order to capture detailed images of SCE equipment, according to SCE. In non-congested areas the fleet flies no lower than 300 feet and in congested areas at no lower than 500 feet. Altitude is continually monitored by SCE flight operations. SCE states that the helicopters and drones fly no lower than that in order to minimize noise impact to the public and ensure safety for the helicopter crews.

SCE says that in in some cases the helicopters and drones may appear to be flying lower than the 300-foot limit because it is difficult to gauge altitude by observing from the ground.

Aerial inspections in the Ojai Valley are scheduled to continue through December 7, 2019, but may be extended due to weather or other operational impacts, SCE said.

SCE has been posting information about the work and related shutdowns on social media and via direct customer telephonic messaging. Regarding pole replacement, the City is working with SCE to ensure notice is provided to residents before poles are replaced. The City first posted notice of these aerial inspections on our website in July of this year. Since then, the City has worked with SCE to review each potential pole replacement individually for poles within the City limits, and is working with SCE to identify optimal conditions for shutdowns to lessen the impact on residents.

With the sheer number of replacements needed, there will likely be challenges with this project, but the City will continue to work with SCE to mitigate these as much as possible.

For more information on SCE’s aerial inspection program, click here.

https://energized.edison.com/stories/aerial-inspections-of-electrical-equipment-help-reduce-risk

For more information on SCE’s use of aerial drones click here.

https://energized.edison.com/stories/drones-join-helicopters-inspecting-power-lines-in-high-fire-risk-areas

For information real-time status of power outages and locations, click here:

https://www.sce.com/outage-center/check-outage-status

To contact an SCE representative directly regarding outages (24 hours a day, seven days a week), call (800) 611-1911 then press 2.

For residents with critical medical issues, registers with SCE for the Medical Baseline contact list at https://www.sce.com/residential/assistance/medical-baseline or by calling (800) 447-6620. Medical baseline is for people who require electrically powered medical equipment for life support. Inclusion on the list requires a doctor’s certification. SCE contacts individuals on the Medical Baseline list before planned outages.

For questions about City of Ojai matters related to telephone pole replacement and related matters, contact the City’s Public Works Department at (805) 646-5581, extension 209