Public Safety Commissioners Astounded That City Does Not Send Generators To Blacked Out Signals

Written by on January 9, 2021

Malibu has bought generators to keep traffic signals going during blackouts … 

But the city is not moving out the generators during recent intentional power blackouts caused by the Southern California Edison company.

That has some residents shaking their heads … the deal made with Caltrans called for the city to be allowed to supply emergency power to traffic lights during Southern California Edison’s intentional power outages.

And that was how the idea was sold to the public. SCE has been more and more frequently turning off power to parts of Malibu … where accidental power outages already occur at a rate of 2.5 times the number of outages for the rest of the SCE system.  Malibu outages also last 4 times the average length of power outages in the SCE system.

Traffic signals may run for 2-4 hours … but their batteries quickly fail.  The last two intentional power outages saw six traffic collisions at blacked-out intersections … where motorists apparently were ignorant of the law that they must stop at blacked out signals … or did not know they were at an uncontrolled crossing..

Caltrans has responded to the frequent failures of its equipment … not by adding generators … but by installing relfectorized signal head ;plates … which are supposed to alert drivers to follow the law.

That has been a massive fail … and the city’s effort to supply its own generators for the blacked out signals has seen no results … and angry residents.

Members of the Malibu Public Safety Commission say they were astounded that the city was not activating any plan to get power to traffic signals during recent intentional power blackouts implemented by Southern California Edison … during recent moderate wind storms.

City Public Safety Director Susan Duenas maintains that the generators were never intended to be used during intentional blackouts … she says they have “always been” only intended for use in evacuations.


With power outages … we don’t always know how long are they going to last.

So then we have to come up with a policy well which power outages,. Is it just PSPS but then maybe it’s not?

“Or is it this kind? It depends.

“You you know can bring in all this manpower to get the generator out there, and then ‘oh the lights are on now.’

“So you’ve just taken a bunch of people out of their regular job and spent all this time doing that … and that can get frustrating too.”

On the video screen … Chris Frost’s head looked like it was about to explode.

He reminded the city emergency services director that six traffic crashes happened during the last two intentional power blackouts … when speeding cars plowed through intersections where traffic lights had been turned off on what the power company calls a PS PS.

Frost pointed out that Caltrans has installed batteries that last 2 to 4 hours … and that gives time for the city to get the generators out… to keep the traffic lights functioning seamlessly..


If we have battery backup to give us a seamless two hours … three hours … we should throw them out there every time the power goes out … that’s the whole point of it.

“PSPS or somebody hits a power pole or Dane touches two wires together in his yard and shuts everybody off.

“Whatever it is.

“Those lights need to be seamless and we need to have generators on the way out there … because we don’t know how long it is going to last.”

The city official pointed out that this is an expansion of city services … a budgetary item that needs to go to the city council.

Members of the Public Safety Commission agreed … and strongly urged the city council to set a policy directing that the city generators start getting used for the original intention … keeping the lights on during Malibu’s frequent power outages … no matter if they are intentional blackouts or accidental blackouts.

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