Edison Spokesperson Taken to Task on Recent Power Outages
• Some Events Described as Unavoidable
BY BILL KOENEKER
Southern California Edison Regional Manager Mark Olson came to the Malibu City Council chambers this week at the behest of council members to explain the details of the power outage several weeks ago that left 4000 customers in the dark.
Olson said the city is primarily served by six 16 kV distribution circuits, which are energized by two distribution substations. For se?curity reasons he declined to specify exactly where those substations are located.
The SCE representative added that some small sections of the Malibu load are served by three more 16 kV distribution circuits energized by two other distribution substations.
During the past six months, there have been a total of six outages, the most serious being the Nov. 10 outage when a tree fell through the line and impacted both circuits.
Many events are beyond SCE’s control, according to Olson, who said the November outage was one of those events.
The wind was blowing, a tree across the street from the line fell over at the same time Edison was doing work on one of the circuits that was down for repairs.
Olson talked about the power interruptions on Nov. 21 and what actually happens
“Around 11:19 a.m. the breaker at circuit four opened due to a fault. All of the load on circuits four, five and partial six was in?terrupted. Immediately the distribution control center started switching through remote control switches to isolate the fault and re-energize the rest of the load.
“The entire load on circuit four was re-energized after 11 minutes from initial interruption. The en?tire load on circuit six was re-energized after 34 minutes from initial interruption. Approxi?mate?ly 93 percent of the load of circuit five was re-energized after 85 minutes from initial interruption. The remaining seven percent of he load of circuit five had to stay de-energized so the crews could complete repairs of the failed underground switch,” he said.
“There was an ongoing maintenance of substation equipment and 66 kV line serving the Tapia substation. All of the Tapia substation load was carried through other distribution circuits,” said Olson, who added, “Around 2:52 a.m. a car hit the pole on Malibu canyon and required a manual load interruption to clear the area and complete repairs. Due to abnormal circuit conditions and to avoid circuit overloads, the interrupted load remained off while crews were completing repairs.”
He acknowledged Malibu with its animals contacting lines, wind and rain storms and brush covered hills and more vegetation than urban areas can offer a more challenging playing field.
The SCE spokesperson went through a laundry list of improvements recently completed by SCE and also planned improvement projects over the next several years.
Mayor Lou La Monte asked about undergrounding utilities in all of Malibu. “Un?dergrounding is very expensive. You could underground Malibu, but the cost would be prohibitive. Most undergrounding is considered a luxury. It is usually budgeted at $5 million per mile,” Olson said.
Olson also explained to council members that all leaning poles are not a problem. “If there is a doubt, we will look at it,” he said.