Thousands Still Without Power as L.A. City Council Seeks Answers

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Hundreds of Southern California Edison and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers -- a huge reduction from Tuesday -- are still without power this morning.

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

As of 2:30 a.m., SCE reported 1,671 customers in Los Angeles and Orange counties were without electricity while the LADWP reported 244 customers without service. It was unclear when those customers would have power restored.

SCE restored some power Tuesday, reducing the number of customers affected in Los Angeles County to 6,808 and in Orange County to 2,419 by the afternoon.

The utility had brought in contract crews to help get power up and running, prioritizing a balance between those who had been without power longest and the outages affecting the greatest number of customers, SCE spokesman David Song said.

On Saturday, the utility broke a record for demand that had stood since 2006. That new record was then shattered on Sunday, according to Song, who said the record usage was understandable.

With red flag fire conditions in the area through Wednesday, however, SCE warned that more than 54,500 of its customers could be subjected to Public Safety Power Shutoffs, which are implemented to help prevent wildfires from sparking.

Of those 54,500 customers, more than 11,000 are under consideration for shutoffs in Los Angeles County and nearly 9,500 in Orange County when winds were expected to pick up Tuesday evening. It was unclear if power had been shutoff to any of those customers as of early Wednesday morning.

Customers affected can charge phones and other small devices and get water and snacks at community centers and SCE community vehicles staged in areas subject to shutoff. Those addresses can be found at

The DWP reported 8,704 customers without power as of noon Tuesday, but the number of customers was down to fewer than 3,000 by 3:30 p.m. More than 45,000 customers were without power at 1 p.m. Monday.

As many as 40,000 of SCE's accounts had been plagued by outages during the peak of the problem, the utility said.

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.

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

“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 ... 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.

Crews have been working around the clock on 16-hours shifts since Saturday, the DWP said.

SCE, along with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and San Diego Gas &Electric, is part of the California Independent System Operator, which controls roughly 80% of the state's power grid. The DWP operates independent of that system and had sufficient energy during an earlier August heat wave to supply ISO with additional power.

SCE customers experiencing a power outage can call 800-611-1911 or report it online at DWP customers were urged to report outages at or by calling 1-800-DIAL-DWP (1-800-342-5397) using the automated system.

Photo: Getty Images

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