LA County to SoCal Edison: 'You failed'

Aizita Magana

South Pasadena resident Aizita Magana has been without power since last Wednesday night. She took this picture in her neighborhood.

Thousands of Southland residents are now in their seventh day without power after a violent windstorm, and they are predictably unhappy about it. Some are very unhappy.

Pasadena's Geoffrey Commons was so upset, police said, he threatened to injure city employees, reports the Pasadena Sun.

After calling an emergency hotline and threatening employees “he showed up at the City Manager’s office at Pasadena City Hall, where he caused a ruckus,” the Sun reported. Commons was once a member of the California Energy Commission. It's not clear if he's a customer of SoCal Edison, or Pasadena Water and Power.

Later, Commons told KTLA in an interview that he didn't threaten to shoot anyone, as police alleged.

The L.A. County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, in a less dramatic move, released a statement expressing his concern with SoCal Edison’s performance.

“I have urged Southern California Edison to expedite the restoration of power. In a meeting with Edison officials today, my office also requested an increase in communication to impacted customers to inform them about updates on service restoration,” the statement on his Facebook page said.

Later, at the County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, he pointedly criticized the utility.

"You're not responding effectively," Antonovich said, according to the L.A. Times. "You failed during the disaster."

In its defense, SoCal Edison points out the storm was unprecedented for it, and it’s been working 24 hours a day.

"One of the complications SCE is facing is a safety concern. Where trees have taken out lines and poles, crews may be able to reconstruct poles, but trees may also have taken down the lines between poles and homes," the utility said, according to NBC LA.

In an open letter to customers, Ron Litzinger, SoCal Edison president, apologized. The letter appeared as a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times.

"We set ambitious goals to return service to them; however, in some cases in the hardest hit areas, we were not able to achieve our restoration targets or provide accurate information about their service," he wrote. "We understand that a number of our customers are frustrated, particularly those who have been without power for more than five days, and we thank them for their patience. We are working around the clock with crews from as far away as San Diego and Bakersfield to repair the massive storm damage to our power delivery system."

And on Wednesday afternoon, CNN reported that the California Public Utilities Commission will investigate the outages.

Paul Clanon, the agency's executive director, says the PUC will look at why the outages occurred and why it's taken so long for power to be restored.

The agency expects to issue a preliminary report in January.

Edison’s Veronica Gutierrez said Wednesday afternoon that workers are repairing power on a priority basis. First: circuits with hospitals; then, circuits reaching the most customers, and, finally, smaller circuits.

“We followed that protocol," Gutierrez insisted, "but when we got to those smaller circuits we found a lot more damage than we found elsewhere or that we anticipated.”

Gutierrez went on to say that she can’t estimate when Edison will restore power to all its customers. She says utility crews are repairing lines "as quickly as they can."

Is SoCal Edison's apology enough for you?

This story has been updated with some clarifications about Pasadena Water and Power and SoCal Edison. Some outskirts of Pasadena are covered by SoCal Edison, but most are covered by Pasadena Water and Power.

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