Lawmaker: Wind Storm, Edison Outages Served As ‘Massive Unplanned Disaster Drill’

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A Southland lawmaker said Thursday that a devastating wind storm that cut power to hundreds of thousands of San Gabriel Valley customers and uprooted trees and power poles was likely a rehearsal for an even bigger disaster.

KNX 1070’s Pete Demetriou reports the comments came during a public hearing in Pasadena on why it took so long for Southern California Edison and other entities to get back online after the big November windstorm.

Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Pasadena) and others offered their take on the lack of communication to the public about when power would be restored and how protocols on power restoration were determined.

“I think we should view this windstorm and what followed as a massive, unplanned, and unrehearsed disaster drill,” said Schiff.

Over 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 restoration priorities need to be revisited.

Ron Litzenger, president of Southern California Edison, said that while the utility uses a computerized program to maximize the efficiency of repair crew assignments, in this case the system was simply overwhelmed and was giving false readings.

“After we restored the mainline, the computer would re-poll and it would see so many customers out on the branches that it would incorrectly conclude that this must be a mainline problem, and would re-dispatch a different crew back to the mainline,” Litzenger said.

The roundtable discussion also looked at how to better utilize social media and other low-power alternatives during a widespread outage.

More from Pete Demetriou
  • Sam

    Be assured a big earthquake would be MUCH worse than that little windstorm. Edison clearly isn’t ready.

  • ginny

    When incidents like this happen there are always multiple problems to be cleared, such as tree removal, pole replacement, etc. before areas get power restored. Peopl should expect times of service loss, it isn’t like the utility companies delay service restoration just for the heck of it.

    I spent 17 days visiting on the East coast, a couple of years ago, when a snow/ice storm hit. The home I was staying at lost power, pipes froze, then burst, and yet when all was said and done I saw less complaiining from those peopl then I did here with the outages.

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