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Six days and counting without power

December 08, 2011

As I write this, six full days after the power outage of Nov. 30, our family remains without power. Southern California Edison’s failure to maintain and upgrade its infrastructure within the Flintridge area, its failure to maintain adequate repair capacity, its lack of leadership in this event, and complete lack of transparency and communication with the community, is a staggering breach of the public utility’s duties and responsibilities to its rate payers and our community.

Every year, without fail, we experience three to four, or more, power outages of varying and ever-increasing duration. On-site SCE repairmen have admitted that significant infrastructure problems exist in our neighborhood because of the ancient and aging lines in the Flintridge area off of Woodleigh Lane. These power outages occur in normal, seasonal wind and rain events and during normal peak summer usage. The failure of SCE to upgrade its infrastructure to meet ordinary weather and usage events is grossly negligent. And it appears that SCE has failed to make any material steps to maintain its easement rights by trimming the trees, shrubs and vegetation from the lines in the Flintridge area. This greatly exacerbates the likelihood of downed lines, especially in a significant wind storm.

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As I write this, we have learned through neighbors that SCE is attempting to place a generator on our street to service some number of houses. SCE does not appear to be working concurrently on outages affecting our community, but instead is working in a sequential fashion, leaving apparently difficult areas such as ours out of power for indefinite periods of time. We are lucky that this weather event was not coupled with heavy rains and freezing daytime temperatures.

I ask our city leaders and state Assemblyman to reject SCE’s request for cooperation on its Tehachapi transmission project until such time that SCE commences, or otherwise contracts, to actually upgrade its utility infrastructure in the Flintridge area. Consider the availability of municipal citations; consider the availability of state regulatory enforcement of infrastructure improvement and repair capacity through the Public Utilities Commission or other applicable regulatory agency.

There is simply no excuse for SCE and its senior management to have failed to address these issues.

Stephen C. Chuck

La Cañada Flintridge

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