‘Is This A Third-World Country?’ County Officials Hammer Edison On Outages

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Southern California Edison on Tuesday defended charges of failing to efficiently restore power to customers in the wake of a devastating wind storm that has left thousands still in the dark.

“It’s cold! It’s colder in the house than it is outside,” said Temple City resident Lynn Van Valkenburg.

With more than 6,000 residences and businesses still without electricity nearly five days after one of the worst wind storms in 30 years, a senior Edison executive told KNX 1070 that the utility will continue to do everything possible to restore power.

“We certainly understand the frustration of our customers, some of whom have experienced no service for over 4 and a half days now,” said Edison Vice President Veronica Gutierrez. “We can tell you, however, that we are entirely committed to getting these lights back on.”

Since the beginning of the storm last week, Gutierrez said 276 utility crews from as far as San Diego and Bakersfield have been “working on this nonstop day and night” to service 419,000 customers who have lost power.

Gutierrez also called the storm “unprecedented”.

“I have spoken with 30-year employees who have never seen this level of damage,” she said.

She cited a “very significant” amount of tree damage lining the streets of cities throughout the San Gabriel Valley that have hampered repair efforts.

County officials, however, were not impressed.

Supervisor Mike Antonovich accused Edison of bad planning and failing to keep customers properly informed of progress.

“You can talk to anybody on the street who’s been impacted and they’re saying ‘Are we living in a third-world country or is this California?’,” he said.

Antonovich said he’s received dozens of calls from angry customers and he critic.

“You know, you had an exercise and you failed when we had the disaster. What do you do in the exercise? How do you evaluate the exercise? And how do you evaluate how we can do a better job than the previous exercise? Or is it coffee and donuts?” Anotonovich said.

Van Valkenburg said the supervisor’s comments went too far.

“That’s not fair. I mean these guys — I sit here and watch how hard they work,” she said.

Supervisor Don Knabe agreed with Gutierrez’s assessment of the historic nature of the damage, but added that Edison still stumbled in the wake of the storm.

“Nothing like this has ever happened, but if you’re prepared, if you let the people know, if you let the elected officials know, they can deal with that and help you with your own public relations problem,” said Knabe.

“Now you’ve got a public relations nightmare,” he added.

To report wind damage residents can call an L.A. County disaster hotline by dialing 211 or (800) 980-4990.

  • http://losangelesforme.com/2011/12/is-this-a-third-world-country-la-county-officials-hammer-edison-on-power-outages/ ?Is This A Third-World Country?? LA County Officials Hammer Edison On Power Outages | Los Angeles for Me

    […] Southern California Edison defended charges of failing to efficiently restore power to customers in the wake of a devastating wind storm that has left thousands still in the dark. More from: http://losangeles.cbslocal.com… […]

  • Meg

    Holy freaking cow! 5 days?! Unbelievable! I honestly wouldn’t know what to do!

    • M

      You’re freaking out about 5 days without electricity? Really?
      What are you going to do when the sh!t really hits the fan??
      Anyone who doesn’t have emergency supplies and foot & water to last you and your family a MINIMUM of 30 days is a fool. Especially in So Cal. They’ve been telling us about the Big One for decades, yet no one is prepared. Amazing…
      (And yes. LA is no different than a 3rd world sh!th0le.)

  • Ray

    Why is it that they people that are in charge of tree removal that would be city and county blaming Edison for their failure remember when you point a finger at someone there are ALWAYS 3 POINTING BACK AT YOU

  • Dom

    No, but most of LA looks like a 2nd world country. Anyone who’s traveled knows that.

    • Aa

      agree! Other developed countries have their power lines UNDERGROUND rather than above!! My bro in NY said I was already lucky with only 4 days out of power, it takes weeks in NY to restore. Plus their subways still can’t get cell phone calls. Yup.. more like 2nd world country.

  • james simmons

    hey Veronica, its not 5 days, for us in monrovia if you know how to count from wednesday night to monday morning its 5 nights with out power, no communication radio,internet,televisiion, and taking cold showers, you have to admitt that you guys at edision were not prepared. not only that you guy took care of the big business and you forgot about the people. We need a change if a real catastrophy happends, like an earthquake, we are done. its time for edison to go “”Asta la vista baby””” valen pura madre

    • greg

      James, you do know you can relight the pilot light on your water heater for hot water and showers. Also a radio with batteries is just a wise idea, as for the other stuff, agreed, we were without power for ~36 hours and it sucked. Hey, BTW, how did you post this with no computer access?

  • Darrell Nelson

    looking at the name of the vice president…this is ok for mexico.s standard.

    • connie

      I live in Mexico this same thing happened and power was back up in 3 hours. That is such a stupid statement Darrell.

    • clark james

      yeah thats were you mom is from Darrell

  • Timothy McGarry

    More money! We really do need it this time…

  • daniel adams

    I think is is worst than a 3rd world country, edison did not what to do, someone needs to loose their job or edison needs to go, in a bigger emergency what can we spect. I don’t even want to to think about it.

  • c-man

    We sure are a 3rd world country. Just look at all these mexicans we have here.

    • connie

      if you think Mexico is 3rd world then you have not been to Mexico….

      • Noname

        Its 3rd world. Please.

      • ACV

        You have no idea what you are talking about. You are a Moron!

  • jack

    SCE just dont care. Useless to call them. Federal and State officials really need to look into this. If we have anything like this happens again, we will have more serious problems.

  • ACV

    SCE as well as DWP is like the rest of most American Cities and Counties; they are just BROKE DOWN! ALL are working with infrastructures they have been putting band-aids on for years! So their priorities are the better communities, cut back on staff, and continue to use outdated ideas, equipment and parts. I think the most who has suffered from this are all the people living in the “unincorporated” cities like Altadena who were probably on the low priorities list. Their website is only to “show they are in the 21st century” and quite clear in WHERE TO MAIL THOSE PAYMENTS TO1

    Frankly, Los Angeles has a lot of nerve! Talk about calling the kettle black!

  • louis castillo

    mike antonavich was way out of line the way he spoke to the SCE reps. he might want to redirect the word stupid to himself, didn’t he know what SCE had accomplished in 7 days after one of the worst storms in 30 yrs., I don’t care how many times you have excercises you will always have lessons learned after the actual event happens, was mike auditioning for a reality show.

  • Kevin

    the sorry lame excuses that SCE is using. They set the standards on how long it will take to place a new power pole and rewire it for service, and any good union man will follow thoses time schedules to a tee. I have worked with Edison before and watched a union crew of 10 men 14 hours to puts up a pole and not even finish it. On the other hand there is a company called HOT LINE a sub contractor of SCE that can do the same job as them in half the time. In emergancy though SCE will not use its sub so their people can make the money at your expense

  • Noname

    Gutierrez. What do you expect. Get used to it. USA standards have been lowered. Its what happens when people come to the USA and don’t want the best for it, they bring along a ‘me vale madre’ mentality.

    But the blame is also on a dated system that in this case has exposed its malfunctioning, beaurocratic, padded, head up the a__ system of letting things age, get dated, etc. etc.

    That sentence probably didn’t make much sense, Im too tired to write out an essay, you get the picture.

    Add to that also a slightly union-like contractor base thats being hired. Unless their paid correctly do they haul a__s.

    • ACV

      I do agree with you here.

  • calhistory

    Why is this a question?


    Yes, California IS a Third World country. EVERYONE knows that.

  • rg

    mike antonavich grand-standing at his best. LA County Public Services is a joke, yet he has the gall to throw stones at SCE. Who’s job is it to maintain all those trees that caused most of the damage? Let me guess, the LA County Dept of Public Works maybe? Some of Antonavich’s comments were plain stupid, yet he accused the SCE rep as being stupid. Hasn’t Antonavich ever hear of battery operated radios, twitter, iPad, etc. When he said it was stupid that SCE’s effort to get the word out because there wasn’t any electricity just shows how backward he is. I damn near fell off my chair when he suggested broadcasting the news from megaphone equipped vehicles. Maybe smoke signals too? Hey Mike, quit pointing fingers until your house is in order.

  • http://cbsla.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/lawmaker-wind-storm-edison-outages-served-as-massive-unplanned-disaster-drill/ Lawmaker: Wind Storm, Edison Outages Served As ‘Massive Unplanned Disaster Drill’ « CBS Los Angeles

    […] 400,000 Edison customers in the San Gabriel Valley, Pasadena, and Glendale were left in the dark for as long as five days after the storm had passed, leaving many to wonder whether specific power […]

  • http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2012/11/30/regulators-ok-rate-hike-for-edison-customers/ Regulators OK Rate Hike For Edison Customers « CBS Los Angeles

    […] also demanded Edison improve its emergency response, particularly in the wake of a destructive wind storm last December, resulting in lengthy […]

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