SAN FRANCISCO–The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has opened a penalty consideration case against Southern California Edison for power outages that occurred in Long Beach during July and August 2015 that affected up to 30,000 customers and resulted in fires, explosions, and other events that endangered the safety of the public.
The penalty consideration case was opened based on the findings and conclusions made in a CPUC staff investigation, which started in July 2015. The staff investigation identified multiple systemic failures by Edison due to problems with maintenance, inspection, and management of the electrical system in Long Beach, and deficient emergency response and communications capabilities. The investigation report made recommendations related to the system outages, and to Edison’s emergency response and corporate culture.
The penalty consideration case will determine whether Edison violated rules or regulations, whether Edison maintained adequate, accurate, and complete records, and whether Edison provided sufficient emergency response and communications to various parties during the power outages.
During the penalty consideration phase, an Administrative Law Judge will be assigned to the case and will hear testimony from parties. Based on the record that will be developed, the Administrative Law Judge will prepare a recommendation for consideration by the CPUC’s Commissioners, which could include statutory fines and penalties against Edison, if warranted, of up to $50,000 per each day of a continuing violation of law. The CPUC may also order the implementation of other remedies, including operational and policy measures designed to prevent future incidents.
“Utilities have a duty to maintain good records, know and operate their systems as experts, and must be able to quickly identify and resolve system problems to restore customer service,” said Commissioner Catherine Sandoval. “I support opening this penalty consideration case to examine the allegations of our staff that Edison improperly installed, configured, and maintained its network; inadequately maintained records and system knowledge; and had a poor emergency response plan that contributed to the multi-day electrical outage in Long Beach that left more than 30,000 customers without power.”