Thousands Still Without Power as LA City Council Seeks Answers

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Thousands of Southern California Edison and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers remained without power today, and electricity for some was not expected to be restored until Wednesday, as the City Council began seeking answers to the problem.

Both utilities were plagued by widespread failures over the Labor Day weekend as temperatures soared to record levels across the Southland.

SCE restored some power overnight, reducing the number of customers affected in Los Angeles County to 9,800 and in Orange County to 2,500 customers as of Tuesday morning.

With red flag fire conditions in the area, however, SCE warned that more than 66,000 of its customers could be subjected to Public Safety Power Shutoffs, which are implemented to help prevent wildfires from sparking.

Of those 66,000 customers, more than 8,500 are in Los Angeles County and nearly 6,500 are in Orange County.

The DWP reported 8,704 customers without power as of noon Tuesday, down from more than 45,000 at 1 p.m. Monday.

The most affected areas included West Adams, with 1,522 customers without power, Mid-Wilshire (959), Panorama City (660), Los Feliz (359), Mission Hills (251), Larchmont (223), Sun Valley (194) and North Hollywood (184).

The estimated time of total restoration of services is 48 hours from the time an outage began, DWP spokeswoman Dawn Cottrell said. Customers who have been without power the longest were receiving top priority.

Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez filed a motion Tuesday to have the DWP report on the events that led to the weekend outages. The motion asks the DWP to report on what actions it took to restore power and what plans it has going forward to prevent outages, as well as to report the number of people affected and the duration of the outages.

Although it wasn't part of her direction in the motion, Martinez questioned whether low-income neighborhoods were affected worse than areas with higher income earners.

Martinez' motion will first be heard by the council's Energy, Climate Change and Environmental Justice Committee.

“As I speak there continues to be ... those who are without power, and that is something that this department sincerely regrets,'' DWP Board of Water and Power Commission President Cynthia McClain-Hill said during an earlier commission meeting Tuesday. “We had crews that were out, as I understand it, doing 16-hour shifts ... Every single resource that this department has and every resource that we could beg, borrow or steal was dedicated toward addressing this crisis.''

“We are doing everything we can to get everyone dealt with, both the large outages and the small outages,'' DWP General Manager and Chief Engineer Marty Adams said. “We hope that we will make significant progress today and get everyone back in power as quickly as we can.''

Adams said many of the issues related to power restoration involve the need for a power line repair or a transformer that needs to be replaced.

The DWP was requesting mutual aid from nearby utilities in order to help with the high number of small outages.

“Restoring neighborhood outages affecting groups of 5-20 homes takes our crews much longer than larger circuit level or partial circuit outages where a single crew may be able to restore power to 500 to 1000+ customers in the same amount of time,'' according to a statement from the utility on Monday.

“In contrast, neighborhood outages typically take a single crew 4-6 hours to restore power to a much smaller group of customers.''

The statement added that DWP crews “have been working around the clock on 16-hour shifts since Saturday and will continue until every last customer is restored. We appreciate everyone's patience as we respond to one of the worst heat storms ever to hit our city.''

Those experiencing a power outage were urged to report it at or by calling 1-800-DIAL-DWP (1-800-342-5397) using the automated system.

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