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State regulators slam Southern California Edison for windstorm response

February 1, 2012 |  3:28 pm

Report critical of Southern California Edison's response to windstorm
State regulators Wednesday issued a blistering report Wednesday criticizing Southern California Edison for outages that left nearly a quarter of a million customers without power, some for more than a week, after last November's historic wind storms.

The report by the California Public Utilities Commission faulted the utility for equipment, including wooden poles and cables that help stabilize electrical poles, that did not meet safety standards and for "failing to adequately investigate the outages and pole failures."

The regulatory commission’s Consumer Protection and Safety Division also criticized Edison for failing to preserve evidence needed to investigate the causes of the massive power outage.

PHOTOS: California windstorm

Had the utility had access to physical evidence that was "destroyed" by the utility, the report said, investigators believe they might have found "more instances where SCE failed to comply" with rules regarding the preservation of evidence, and where such "noncompliance directly resulted in unnecessary damage to facilities and prolonged outages."

The windstorm, which raked over the San Gabriel Valley harder than any other communities, toppled hundreds of trees and dimmed long stretches of bustling commercial corridors and traffic signals.

The windstorms also created an increase in patients at local hospitals, with emergency room staff seeing elderly people who had fallen in the dark or had anxiety attacks.  Though other parts of Los Angeles County were affected, the communities serviced by Edison were by far the hardest hit.


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-- Hector Becerra

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