Antonovich asks PUC to enforce utility regulations violated

In a motion introduced for the January 22 Board agenda, Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich has called for the Public Utilities Commission to enforce regulations violated by Edison in the 2011 windstorms.
“The PUC investigative report revealed that Edison destroyed evidence that should have been available to inspectors, used substandard utility poles, and failed to conduct emergency training exercises,” Antonovich said. “Edison’s failure to comply with common industry standards resulted in prolonged outages, unnecessary damage, a complete customer communications blackout — and ultimately, an increased threat to public safety.”
In December 2011, powerful windstorms swept through the San Gabriel Valley and San Fernando Valley knocking down 200 utility poles, uprooting 1,300 trees, and leaving 439,000 customers without power for more than seven days. The utility company’s response to the disaster led the Consumer Protection and Safety Division of the California Public Utilities Commission to investigate.
Their report released Monday concluded that:
Edison failed to preserve evidence for inspection by the Consumer Protection and Safety Division that proved their actions led to unnecessary damage and prolonged outages.
Twenty-one of Edison’s utility poles and 17 guy wires did not meet industry safety requirements.
Several conductors showed signs of pitting and deformation indicating they failed to meet industry safety requirements.
A lack of vegetation management by Edison may have contributed to utility pole failure.
Edison did not dispatch dedicated staff to contact its 397 critical care customers during the incident.
Edison did not deploy a reverse-911 system to automatically contact its customers of an outage in a particular area.
Edison provided the public inaccurate restoration time estimates.
Edison did not implement in-person “door-to-door” outreach activities during emergencies.
Edison did not request mutual assistance from other utilities or the California Utility Emergency Organization (CUEO) which could have reduced restoration times.
Edison’s Corporate Emergency Response and Recovery Plan is outdated, and some of its points of contact included retired PUC staff.
Edison representatives lacked specific operational knowledge and authority when contacted by the public and government entities.
Edison violated safety requirements by failing to conduct all of its emergency training exercises.
Antonovich’s motion also directs the County’s Office of Emergency Management to provide the Board of Supervisors with quarterly reports on Edison’s compliance correcting these deficiencies.

January 22, 2013

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