Southern California Edison and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power reported major progress Wednesday in restoring power to customers who lost electricity during the weekend heat wave.
Both utilities were plagued by widespread failures over the Labor Day weekend as temperatures soared to record levels across the Southland.
Outage figures fluctuated throughout Wednesday morning as some outages were repaired and new ones cropped up, but as of 11:30 a.m., SCE reported about 1,000 customers in Los Angeles County and about 400 in Orange County were without electricity. Early Wednesday, the LADWP reported 90 customers without service, but by midday, the utility announced that all of its customers who lost power during the heat wave have had their service restored.
The situation was a dramatic improvement from the weekend, when outages spiked amid the soaring temperatures.
SCE 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 some customers could be subjected to Public Safety Power Shutoffs, which are implemented to help prevent wildfires from sparking. But that possibility appeared to be dwindling as forecast winds turned out to be much lighter than anticipated.
On Wednesday morning, SCE indicated that 54,500 customers through the company’s service area could be subject to the shutoffs. By noon, that number was down to about 17,000, including roughly 4,400 in both Los Angeles and Orange counties. SCE actually implemented the shutoffs for 135 customers in northern Los Angeles County late Wednesday morning, along with 117 customers in Ventura County.
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 sce.com.
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.
Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez introduced 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 Tuesday. “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 involved the need for a power line repair or a transformer that needs to be replaced.
The DWP requested mutual aid from nearby utilities in order to help with the high number of small outages.
Crews worked 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 sce.com. DWP customers were urged to report outages at www.ladwp.com/outages or by calling 1-800-DIAL-DWP (1-800-342-5397) using the automated system.