CPUC Turns Down Malibu Request To Delay Power Blackouts in Santa Anas

Written by on July 14, 2018

Up in San Francisco yesterday … the press release was written even before the California Commission took a vote.

The plan to allow California electric companies to shut off parts of their grids … when big Santa Ana windstorms threaten… was approved.

Commissioners brushed aside objections from the city of Malibu … and the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School System …

They claim blacking out Malibu will be far more dangerous than a potential fire.

The president of the Public Utilities Commission disagrees … and tells KBUU News that fire storms are blowing with stronger winds and more often in these days of climate change.

CPUC President Michael Picker is sincerely convinced that the fire danger from Edison lines … is much greater than the danger to a community left without traffic lights … water pumping … phone or internet service … and fire hydrant supplies.

At the meeting yesterday in San Francisco … commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves brushed aside the Malibu concerns … politely.
She spoke off mike … so we have a volunteer reading her transcribed words …

“i think this is an opportunity for community leaders to work with the utilities and come up with these plans.

“There is a lot of work that needs to be done … particularly with critical infrastructure like water … and having those supplies ready.

“I know that I personally — and my colleagues — will be looking at how these mitigation plans come together, and how robust these 90 days of outreach that these utilities will be doing, to get community involvement, to ensure notifications will be done seemlessly.”

CPUC member Martha Guzman Aceves … as written down and then repeated by a KBUU volunteer.

Under the COmmission’s concept  … Edison has 30 days to disclose its plan for notification and mitigation of customer impacts due to pre-emptive blackouts.

Within 90 days … Edison must convent De-Energization Informational Workshops for representatives from the local communities that may be affected by a wind blackout.

As the City of Malibu manager Reva Feldman pointed out … these workshops only require Edison to listen … but does not give local government power to vet the blackout contingency plans.

And it does not require Edison to supply batteries or generators to critical installations …. like schools …. cellphone or data relays … water hydrants and pumps … septic system pumps.

The CPUC brushed back that criticism from the city … as well as a plea from Carey Upton … facilities manager for the local school district.

His letter said … as voiced by a KBUU volunteer …


“We are also concerned about the students’ safety.

We depend on electricity for water.

Due to the terrain, pumps are required to get water to our campuses.

We depend on the Pacific Coast Highway for the safe transportation of the students.

Having one traffic light out severely slows safe passage.

Having all of the traffic lights and street lights out would essentially close the PCH.”

Malibu and the school district opposed the blackout plans … and one of the major reasons was because Edison had not disclosed it or made any preparations.

An Edison company senior vice president… Caroline Choi … promised yesterday in San Francisco that would change.

She said at the extensive outreach effort has begun in the inland Empire …

SCE MEETINGS :37  [transcript unavailable]

All those cities … will be like Malibu and may get blacked out in the next Santa Anas.

Edison VP Carolyn Choi … speaking before the CPUC yesterday in San Francisco,


And coming to a neighborhood near you.

Southern California Edison says it is going to install more than 3 thousand miles of thick … overhead cables …. wrapped in its own insulation … in high fire risk areas …

The company announced yesterday that it is going to armor about one third of its overhead wires in high fire risk areas.

Like Malibu,

The Edison senior vice president showed up at the CPUC meeting yesterday … in San Francisco … holding two pieces of cable … thick cables… as thick as her wrist..

Caroline Choi showed a sample of new power cables that they will be retro-fitting in high fire risk areas.

The new installations will mean a whole lot more weight and wind pressure overhead on wooden poles. 

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