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Power poles toppled in windstorm were overloaded, probe shows

January 12, 2012 |  6:09 pm

Wind edison

A preliminary investigation has revealed that nearly one third of the power poles that were knocked down in last year’s devastating windstorm were overloaded with equipment and cables, regulatory officials said.

The California Public Utilities Commission found that 60 of the 211 Southern California Edison power poles that were toppled or seriously damaged by the Santa Ana winds Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 were overloaded, and possibly in violation of a state law that regulates the ratio between the sturdiness of a pole and the amount of equipment it carries, the Pasadena Star-News is reporting.

"Our preliminary investigation suggests to us that at least one-third of these damaged poles were indeed overloaded," Denise Tyrell, a Southern California representative of the utility commission, said Thursday.

PHOTOS: Windstorm caused major damage

She said that so-called pole overloading appears to be an issue throughout Southern California, and perhaps the northern part of the state as well, the Star-News said.

“And we need to address that immediately," she added.

Southern California Edison President Ron Litzinger said the utility is cooperating with the commission, and is conducting its own investigation as well.

More than 440,000 Southern California Edison customers were affected by the fierce winds, which caused an estimated $40 million in damage.


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Photo: Poles knocked down in Temple City by the windstorm are shown. Credit: Irfan Khan