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Rotating Outage FAQ

Get answers to the most commonly asked questions about Rotating Outages below.

How Rotating Outages Work

Why would SCE need to resort to rotating outages?

Rotating outages become necessary when the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) declares a statewide Stage 3 Emergency, which occurs when the state's electricity reserves have fallen below 1.5% in real time or are unavoidable. CAISO will typically order the state's investor-owned utilities, including SCE, to reduce electrical load immediately.

To reduce our load, we will initiate a California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved rotating outage plan in which controlled outages (lasting about one hour) are rotated among groups of customers throughout our service territory. Without rotating outages on a relatively small scale, a widespread disturbance to the electric grid could occur, which would lead to uncontrolled, large-scale outages.

How does the rotation work?

SCE has identified the circuits available for use in rotating outages according to CPUC rules. A circuit is an overhead or underground electrical line that supplies power to a combination of residential and/or commercial customers within a given geographical area. These circuits have been arranged into groups. Each group includes a number of circuits that comprise approximately 100 megawatts of electricity usage per group, with each circuit generally serving between 800 and 2,000 customers. The amount of power Cal-ISO designates for curtailment will determine the number of groups that are interrupted at any one time (e.g., if Cal-ISO calls for 500 megawatts, we would interrupt service to about five groups). The groups will be interrupted, as operating conditions permit, and each outage is expected to last about one hour. At the end of the hour, service will be restored to the affected groups and the next groups on the list will be interrupted to maintain the amount of load requested by the ISO. Once a group has been used in a rotating outage, it is moved to the bottom of the list.

How long does a rotating outage last?

A rotating outage lasts approximately one hour, depending on circumstances. We manage and rotate the outage to protect the integrity of our electric system, while ensuring that no customer is unduly inconvenienced.

Could one customer's power be out, but a neighbor across the street still have electric service?

Yes, one street could be served by two different circuits. A circuit can serve up to 2,000 customers and does not necessarily align with streets, neighborhoods, or community boundaries.

Could a controlled outage continue into the night?

Yes, a Stage 3 Rotating Outage could occur at any time. We recognize the safety concerns posed by darkened streets and intersections and we ask that you be particularly careful during this time.

Why You Need to Know Your Rotating Outage Group Number

How can I find out when I might be affected?

As soon as the CAISO notifies us of a pending outage, we will post the information online. You can view the Rotating Outage Groups and determine if and when you might be affected.

Your Rotating Outage Group number is located on your bill or in My Account (view the step-by-step guide). Summary Bill customers will find this information on the upper right hand side of their bill.

Why can't I get someone else's Rotating Outage Group?

We treat your Rotating Outage Group as confidential information to protect your privacy and safety. This practice makes it harder to perform illegal acts such as burglaries when your area is affected by a rotating outage.

For this same reason we cannot provide Rotating Outage Groups to you for other customers. If you want to stay informed of the rotating outage status of another customer, such as a relative or your child's school, ask them for their Rotating Outage Group. Once that’s provided, you can then determine their outage status online or call us at 1-800-611-1911.

Staying Safe During a Rotating Outage

What about a person who requires life support (or other special medical equipment)? Will his/her power be shut off, too?

We cannot guarantee uninterrupted service to any customer. However, we do keep track of all customers who have applied for and been certified as "critical care" customers (those who cannot be without electric service for more than two hours) as part of our Medical Baseline program.

What can people do to stay safe during rotating outages?

  • If possible, minimize driving in an outage area. Anyone who must drive through a rotating outage area should be extremely careful at intersections controlled by traffic lights, since the lights may not be functioning. These intersections should be treated as four-way stops.
  • Turn off all appliances, machinery and equipment in use when the power goes out. Leave one light on to indicate when the power has been restored. This will prevent injuries that could occur if machinery and equipment were to suddenly restart. It will also prevent circuits from overloading when power is restored.

Staying Informed During a Rotating Outage & Contacting Us

How will I be notified about a Stage 3 Emergency declaration?

We will contact the news media, especially radio and television stations, which are encouraged to broadcast the news immediately. We may have as little as 10 minutes after a Stage 3 Emergency is declared before we begin rotating outages, which is not enough time to provide individual notifications for affected customers. You can check your status online or call us at 1-800-611-1911 to find out whether you will be affected.

What should I do if my power is out for substantially more than an hour?

The first thing you should do is find out whether your neighbors have electrical service. If neighbors are also without power, call us at 1-800- 611-1911 and we will send someone out to investigate. If your neighbors do have service, you might have an isolated electrical problem in your home or business.

Important Phone Numbers

  • Medical Baseline information: 1-800-684-8123
  • Emergency Services (such as Power Outages, Lines Down, Street Light Repairs):1-800-611-1911
  • Energy-Savings Programs:1-800-736-4777

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