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Councilman seeks report on heat-related power outages

LOS ANGELES — A city councilman was critical of the response by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to the outages, which occurred as a result of extreme heat earlier this month and said he wants the department to prepare a comprehensive report addressing his concerns and those of his constituents.

With temperatures topping 100 degrees in Los Angeles July 7, by early morning 46,000 Department of Water and Power customers were without power, with many of them in Councilman Mitch O’Farrell’s district, which includes East Hollywood, Los Feliz and Silver Lake.

“My office received dozens of complaints via phone call, emails and through social media, frustrated over the lack of communication from the department and no time frame as to when customers could expect to have power restored to their homes,” O’Farrell said in a letter to DWP General Manager David Wright. “We also heard frustration that the information being communicated by the department through press materials was conflicting with the real-time information on the department’s website.”

O’Farrell said he wanted the DWP to prepare a comprehensive report to the City Council on the outages and what it is doing to prevent widespread outages in the future.

Jason Stinnett, a spokesman for the DWP, referred City News Service to a July 9 news release that detailed the department’s actions in relation to the outages when asked to comment on the letter. Stinnett also said Wright planned to meet with O’Farrell and appear soon before the council’s Energy, Climate Change, and Environmental Justice Committee, of which O’Farrell is a member.

The July 9 release said that “the nature of these outages was much different than other storm events such as wind and rain, where large outages can occur, but restoration work typically occurs more quickly. The outages that began July 6 and which continued through the weekend were small, localized outages affecting mostly small groups of customers. At the peak of the heat storm, there were more than 700 individual localized outages, each one requiring a crew or multiple crews to restore power, slowing the pace of restoration for all affected customers.”

The release also said that “the part of the city hit hardest is served largely by underground equipment. While underground utilities have advantages, when equipment fails it takes longer to restore. As a result, estimated time for power restoration changed from 12-24 hours to 24-48 hours, with some outages taking longer than 48 hours to repair.”

 

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