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Windstorms: Edison president apologizes for lengthy power outages

December 7, 2011 |  3:16 pm

Click here to see more photos.The head of Southern California Edison has apologized to customers who have spent up to six days without power because of last week's windstorms.

"In some cases in the hardest-hit area, we were not able to achieve our restoration targets or provide accurate information about their service. On behalf of the entire company. I apologize," company President Ron Litzinger wrote in an advertisement in The Times.  "We understand that a number of our customers are frustrated, particularly those who have been without power for five days, and we thank them for their patience."

As of Wednesday, a few thousand customers, mostly in Altadena and the Temple City area, remained without power for six days after a massive windstorm. Hundreds of Edison crews continue to try to restore power in the San Gabriel Valley.

PHOTOS: California windstorm | Submit your photos

"The biggest factor has been the trees. We had thousands of trees down. Not small trees but fully mature trees," said Steve Conroy, an Edison spokesman. "Many of these trees are over 100 feet tall and fell on to or near lines. They impacted more than 300 spans of wire."

Conroy said getting to the areas to repair the lines because of down trees was the first problem. Once there, trees often on the line needed to be removed to restore service immediately, he said.

“You have to get the trees out of the way. It’s a safety issue,” he said.

Edison has dealt with windstorms before with massive widespread loses of power, including the 1997 windstorm that left about million people without power, Conroy said. But even in that case, the sheer number of mature large trees in and around overhead lines was not as big a problem, he said.

Conroy dismisses any suggestion that Edison hasn’t been pulling its weight on the crisis.

"We have been working around the clock. But it has been a very daunting restoration effort. We know our customers are frustrated and angry and we apologize," he said.

Edison is still trying to reconnect a few thousand people to the electrical grid.


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-- Richard Winton

Photo: A Southern California Edison employee works to reattach electric wires after nearly 30 telephone poles fell on Live Oak Avenue during the windstorm. Credit: Arkasha Stevenson / Los Angeles Times