Report shows where Edison faltered after the windstorm
The study by Maryland-based Davies Consulting said Edison could have shortened power restoration time by one day or more by doing a better job of tracking inclement weather and getting systems in place for a complete emergency response.
A tree completely blocks the 3500 block of E. California Boulevard in Pasadena on Dec. 1. A study commissioned by Southern California Edison showed 70 ways the utility could improve its response for the next disaster. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer / December 1, 2011)
The study, commissioned by Edison and released Wednesday, determined the utility responded appropriately in some ways to the windstorm, which knocked out power to more than 220,000 Edison customers, toppled thousands of trees and 250 power poles and caused tens of millions of dollars' worth of damage to businesses, cars, homes and government property.
But it found Edison must ramp up its emergency planning and communications efforts, including making emergency planning a top-level executive priority.
The California Public Utilities Commission, which has the authority to fine Edison for what local politicians repeatedly have called an inadequate response, has yet to issue its final report. A commission spokesman said Wednesday that the report is being prepared, but there is no timeline for its completion.
The winds arrived in and around Pasadena on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, and in some parts of the state, sustained gusts topped 120 mph. In the San Rafael Hills above Glendale, Wednesday's report said, winds were clocked at 70 mph.
Edison customers from La Cañada Flintridge to Rancho Cucamonga lost power, some for more than seven days. Customers of local municipal utilities, especially Pasadena Water and Power, also lost power after the storm.
Wednesday's report by Maryland-based Davies Consulting said Edison could have shortened power restoration time by one day or more by doing a better job of tracking inclement weather and getting systems in place for a complete emergency response.
The report recommended Edison “significantly expand the role and authority of the SCE emergency management group and elevate the group to an executive level in order to drive change across SCE.”
Yet it also commended the power company for staffing the event adequately, and for a response that left no workers or customers injured.
Stuart Hemphill, Edison's senior vice president of power supply, said the company is taking steps to improve its emergency preparation.
“We are reviewing all of our plans to make sure we're better prepared for the next catastrophic event,” Hemphill said. “We don't want to get caught off guard like we were for this one.”
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), who hosted a Pasadena hearing on the response to the windstorm in December, said Wednesday that he was pleased to learn Edison has begun to address shortcomings that surfaced after the storms.
The report, he said in a statement, calls for “an improved damage assessment method that will integrate information and produce more accurate final power restoration times. It will also be essential for power companies to better apprise consumers as those restoration times change, and better monitor their poles for potential overloading problems.”