Edison promises to do better

Feb 20, 2020 | Uncategorized

Worst November snowstorm since the 1940s


At times apologetic, promising to do better next time, Southern California Edison representatives met with mountain residents on Feb. 11 at Lake Gregory’s San Moritz Lodge to talk about both the Thanksgiving and Dec. 26 storms that hammered the mountain, and Edison’s response.

“The Thanksgiving storm was very impactful,” Jennifer Cusack, SCE’s government relations manager, told the roughly 100 persons in the audience. “Lots of snow, record-breaking snow. Our meteorologist went back into the records and determined it was the largest first snow in a November season since the 1940s.”

A number of factors impacted Edison’s ability to deliver electrical power to the mountain, she added.

“There were lots of broken trees, widespread damage, and it was very impactful for Crestline,” she continued. “Visibility was an issue. And our crews worked very hard to bring back power.”

She said that Edison did some pre-storm warnings, “but during the storm not so much. We recognize there’s some improvement there that we need to make.”

Following the Thanksgiving storm, Edison sent 40 crews, about 150 workers, to the Crestline area to make repairs and return service.

“There were 135 transformers replaced, also 110 poles and 315 spans of wires,” she said. “Crews were working very hard, and in inclement weather. We were trimming trees into December and doing a lot of maintenance work.”

She thanked those residents and businesses who were supportive of Edison’s crews.

“We very much thank you,” she said. “You fed them, gave them burgers, brought them pizza. It was deeply appreciated.”

Then the second storm hit the mountain.

“On December 26, the day after Christmas, another heavy snow storm hit, but there was not so much widespread damage,” she explained. “Crews removed 250 trees, trimmed an additional 3,000 trees.”

Then a major blow hit Edison’s power supply system.

“We did lose a main line to the mountain,” she added. “The sub-translines could not handle it. There was flickering, low voltage (to customers). “It was challenging, switching circuits.”

Bottom line, she said, Edison learned from the two storms.
“We can do better, we should have done better. There were lessons learned,” she said.

Tom Jacobus, SCE’s principal manager, business resiliency, then addressed the audience about steps to notify customers.

“The emergency operations center was fully activated,” he said. “But it was difficult even to get crews up the mountain. We could have coordinated better with the county. It was a case of overcoming resistance to ask for help. We could have turned up the gas, shame on us. Our biggest downfall was communication.

“Overall, this was a tough one for us,” he added. “We can do better, we should do better.”

While asking the audience members to write their questions on cards that would be handed up to the speakers, Edison representatives did answer some questions that were shouted out.

One man said, when customers lose power, Edison should have charging areas, maybe charging stations. “There needs to be multiple (charging) locations. Next time, be ready in advance,” he said.

Another woman in the audience said she became frustrated when calling Edison customer service personnel to report no power service, only to be told otherwise.

“Oh, no, you do have power, I’d be told. But I’m standing in the dark…” she said. “You need to be honest and be consistent.”

Cusack explained that because of losing a main power line, there was a lot of switching and rerouting of power, and the system couldn’t handle it. That caused flickering, low voltage and brownouts.

Another problem facing Edison and its customers was that, where power was out, it was difficult to communicate. No power meant no telephone service, no Internet service and sometimes no cell phone service.

Luis Lara, SCE’s business outage communication team leader, then spoke about communication issues and what Edison is trying to do about it.
Edison is stepping up its own weather reporting system in the mountain, he said, and adding meteorologists.

“We are working on system reliability and hardening,” he said. “We’ve replaced 1,700 power poles and switches, transformers. It’s part of wildfire mitigation plan, a very aggressive plan,” he said.

“There are 30 crews on the mountain at any time. We do aerial inspections. Using infrared, laser-radar and heat sensing,” Lara said. “We are doing system hardening and bringing in a lot of newer technology. We have hundreds of weather stations installed and have another 2,000 to go.”
Discussions then switched to what Edison is doing to address other hazards, such as fire threats.

Cusack said that public safety power shutoff (PSPS) plans are not being done in Southern California, unlike PSPS plans in Northern California.

“We have not implemented PSPS on the mountain,” she stressed.

Jacobus said Edison uses a fuels expert and coordinates power curtailment plans using a fire potential index, ranging on a 1-17 scale, with level 17 being the worst and most threatening. “We came pretty close to seeing a 17 last October,” he added.

While there is automation in the system, Edison makes decisions at the time, sending its people out in the field looking for unsafe things, such as looking for power lines moving together.

“We have to patrol every line we shut off, either in person or by helicopter,” he said. And we can’t do it when it’s dark. We can’t simply shine a flashlight.”

For critical care customers, those with medical needs for electricity, Jacobus said that Edison will be introducing in April a program that includes a box that has batteries in it. “If we have to de-energize, a person could run medical devices for up to 24 hours,” Jacobus said.

Edison also offers a program for medical care customers who need financial assistance with the power costs. Cusack, when she was speaking, held up a brochure that details the medical baseline allowance program, and encouraged customers with medical needs to check it out.

At the end of a nearly 90-minute program, frustrations with Edison began to show but, overall, both sides seem to agree that the presentation and interactions had been informative.



rim bowling center generic 7 11 22 web
audio in english
audio en español
Daffodils blooming mountainwide

Daffodils blooming mountainwide

By RHEA-FRANCES TETLEYStaff Writer Spring must be here, as it is defined by the daffodils welcoming residents and visitors to the mountains. They are especially noticed on the curve of Highway 189 coming into Twin Peaks, just before Strawberry Lodge. Those daffodils...

Rim Honor Society does Earth Day cleanup at Arboretum

Rim Honor Society does Earth Day cleanup at Arboretum

  By RHEA-FRANCES TETLEYStaff Writer The Rim of the World High School National Honor Society does many service projects for the community each year. Because of social distancing, they chose smaller projects than usual this year, such as doing an Earth Day cleanup...

Future of Lake Gregory to be discussed

Future of Lake Gregory to be discussed

A free community informational meeting focusing on the future of Lake Gregory will be held April 22, starting at 6 p.m., at the Lake Gregory South Shore pavilion. Hosted by the Lake Gregory Community Advisory Committee, presenters will include Beahta Davis, county...