Thanksgiving Outage Outrage

Beth Davis
By Beth Davis

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Dear Editor, I have lived in Topanga for 26 years and have had multiple run-ins with SCE since I moved in. To summarize my general feelings, they are great at lip service, not so much with substance. About two weeks after I moved in, my first power outage happened. I only had one local number at that time, my neighbor down the street, and called. Her son answered and I asked meekly, “Did your lights go out, too?” He laughed and said, “Yup, it happens all the time around here.” As time went on, exploding transformers on the poles in front of my house and other never-explained mysterious circumstances happened. Eventually, I noticed it was the 1200 block of Oakwood Drive that continually had power failures, while all the houses around us had power. I once again talked to the same neighbor, who confirmed that she, too, had noticed, and had been trying to get answers from SCE for a long time. While we, and a couple of other neighbors, worked together, I was contacted by SCE about checking the number tag on the telephone pole that was mounted in my yard. When this SCE worker came, I asked why this was the only pole that was not up on the street with the rest but had rather been placed on my property. He didn’t know but told me the question would be referred to a supervisor, and I would receive a call—which never happened. In the meantime, another SCE worker showed up and asked to see the pole. I asked again why only this pole was on my property rather than up on the street with the rest. He did not know either, but explained that the number tag on the current pole showed it needed to be replaced. I now have two poles right next to each other on my property, and no one, until this day, can tell me why they are on my property rather than up on the street with the others. Back now to the single short-street outages. It took close to a year but we finally got enough SCE representatives out to our street to look at our energy hook-ups, and were finally told that we had originally been hooked up on the wrong grid, and the outages from that grid was already famous for problems. This happened around the time that all of the overhead wires were being replaced. We were finally hooked up to the appropriate grid. The last straw for me was the Public Safety Power Shutdown (PSPS.) To me, this is just another word for “Gottcha!” I received my first prerecorded message on the evening of Wednesday November 24. It explained that the outage was planned to last for 48 hours due to high wind conditions (also, it was a holiday weekend and probably a lot of folks would be out of town). My power went out at 9:30 p.m. I didn’t like the inconvenience; it felt like an invasion of my place of sanctuary. I struggled through the next day, Thanksgiving, with no refrigeration and a whole new group of purchased foods in the refrigerator and freezer, no heat, no internet. (I am old school and still carry a flip phone so no internet there either). On Thursday evening, November 25, I received another prerecorded call from SCE at 7:45 p.m., stating that it was beginning the process of restarting the power which usually takes anywhere from three to eight hours. Great, I thought; I’ll have heat to get dressed in the morning, but when I got up at 4:30 a.m. to take care of my horse who is boarded in Chatsworth, I could not help but notice the chill in the air. Inside, the house temperature was 49 degrees and 43 degrees outside. As I left the house at 6 a.m., Friday, November 26, I could only hope power would be restored by the time I got home at noon. My power was still off and inside, the house temperature was 51 degrees. Once again, I called the same neighbor I had called 26 years ago (she carries a smart phone) and she explained that the last updated message stated SCE was still checking things out before feeling comfortable enough to turn the power back on. My power returned at 3:39 p.m. All calls to every SCE number I have ever gathered produces the same prerecorded message and none of it is helpful. I personally have had all of SCE I care to be subjected to. The way this latest fiasco played out and took the time it did to complete, I learned, was because SCE, while “checking the status of the equipment” in Topanga, found the remnants of poor quality work and neglect, and decided to “patch” the worst parts to cover their rear ends. Some might think I’m hallucinating, but, come the end of time, I will feel the same. This outage caused cruel and inhumane conditions to manifest in my sanctuary and I cannot stand for that. If there are any other Topangans who feel something was fishy with this use of PSPS by SCE, maybe we should get together and talk. There is strength in numbers.

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December 10, 2021

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