Prelimininary Findings Show SoCal Edison Violated Saftey Standards
By Terry Miller
The California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) Consumer Protection and Safety Division (CPSD) has issued a Preliminary Report in its investigation into the cause of failed poles, restoration efforts, and communication with the general public and governmental agencies during a recent windstorm in Southern California Edison’s (SCE) service area.
CPSD preliminarily has determined that SCE and Communication Infrastructure Providers, who jointly own poles in SCE’s service territory, violated General Order (GO) 95 safety factor requirements. At least 20 poles and 17 guy wires did not meet the safety factor requirements codified in GO 95, Rule 44.1. CPSD also found that SCE violated GO 95, Rules 17 and 19, for failing to adequately investigate the outages and pole failures and for failing to preserve the evidence.
CPSD found that SCE’s restoration time was not adequate. In addition, information in SCE’s emergency procedures were not updated and SCE personnel did not follow the training schedule outlined in its Local Public Affairs Plan. SCE also did not ask for mutual assistance from other utilities. Such assistance would have reduced restoration time.
CPSD continues to receive additional information from SCE, so this report should be considered preliminary because information is still being gathered and analyzed.
The windstorm outages report by CPSD may lead to a penalty consideration case. The report, by the safety staff, is still preliminary. Once the report is final the CPUC will determine the next step, which typically would be a penalty consideration case where fines can be calculated up to $50,000 per day per violation.
PUC President Michael R. Peevey used the word ” botched” to describe how SCEdison handled the situation. Preliminary investigations by the regulatory agency PUC found that at least 20 power poles that fell as a result of the windstorm did NOT meet basic safety standards.
The windstorm affected nearly 440,000 Edison customers, including about 205,000 customers in the San Gabriel Valley. Some were without power for a week.
“There is no question that this, to some degree, was a botched operation,” said Peevey, a former president of Edison International and Southern California Edison, at Wednesday’s commission meeting in San Francisco.
PUC investigators reported that both Edison and communications providers including telephone and internet, who jointly own the poles, violated safety standards .
The report is available at www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/enforcement in the Recent News box.