Two months after residents of a Rancho Palos Verdes neighborhood vented their frustration at a City Council meeting about decades of power outages, Southern California Edison has started addressing the issue. But, the response is just not quick enough, according to city officials.
The Grandview Estates neighborhood has suffered frequent power outages over the past four decades, according to residents, including earlier this year in part due to heavy rains. But councilmembers at the June 6 City Council expressed their concern about potential power outrages during the upcoming summer months.
Councilmember Eric Alegria said it’s important to ensure the community has the basic necessity of electricity.
“It’s about humanity,” Alegria said, adding SCE’s response has been too casual and a little too cavalier.
“I actually would like you all to sort of reflect on what the experience would be like for you if this kind of disruption was affecting you in your home, your children and your parents, who are geriatric and have health issues,” Alegria said. “These are the kinds of issues that are affecting our people in this community.”
Representatives from SCE said short-term solutions, which have included installing new fuses and replacing 1,500 feet of wire with a covered conductor, were completed in May. SCE has also removed vegetation near power lines.
Trees that could potentially fall into SCE’s power lines were also identified, according to David Guzman, who works as a senior manager in vegetation management with SCE. Guzman also said the power company wants to be proactive before any major wind events.
“Our plan is to put these trees through an environmental process and we have a robust environmental program that takes into consideration bird nesting season,” and other sensitive environmental issues, Guzman said.
Celina Luna, government relations manager with SCE, said the power outages were caused by a “mixture of equipment failures and vegetation coming in contact” with power lines.
A solution to help with most of the outages, could be the installation of Remote Automatic Reclosers (RARs) a device that can isolate portions of the circuit and switch off power just to that section when needed, according to a city staff report.
Luna said the RARs could reduce the impact of a power outage in the neighborhood.
“The large number of outages that have been experienced in that neighborhood will be reduced by sub-sectioning and allowing our crews to come out and get to just the smaller area,” said Luna. “Then the long term solution will allow a release of stress on the grid in that neighborhood by reconfiguring some of the load.”
“Will it completely diminish outages? Unfortunately, probably not,” Luna added. “But it will have a vast improvement in your reliability.”
But a concern for councilmembers was SCE officials estimated the work would not be completed until early 2024. That wouldn’t help during the coming summer months which carries with it the risk of wildfires.
“The potential for fire-related issues to occur is just simply going to keep going,” said Alegria.
Grandview Estates was created in 1956, but outages have been occurring in the area since the late 1970s, according to residents. The city and SCE signed a franchise agreement in 1974 to bring electricity from its generating station in Wilmington, according to the city.
The area that is experiencing the power outages is surrounded by Malaga Canyon to the northwest, Montemalaga Drive to the north, Silver Spur Road to the east bordering Rolling Hills Estates, and Hawthorne Boulevard to the south, also bordering Rolling Hills Estates.
Pamela Chapman moved to the area nearly 20 years ago and continues to have “frequent habitual outages.”
“I’m a little disappointed to hear that after all the complaints that only now are they saying that there is inadequate or damaged equipment that should have been taken care of all during this time,” Chapman said.
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