HomeCity NewsLa Cañada Flintridge Residents Decry Constant SCE Power Outages

La Cañada Flintridge Residents Decry Constant SCE Power Outages

Unplanned, weekly power outages are not what La Cañada Flintridge residents sign up for to live in the leafy, suburban city, but for some, the spotty energy source has become the norm.
LCF resident and owner of Taylor’s Steak House, Bruce Taylor, said he has been experiencing unplanned outages on and off for about 25 years, “and there’s no indication that it’s going to stop anytime soon.”
Recently, in the last month, outages have been constant at his residence, located near Descanso Gardens.
Taylor has counted nine power outages in the last 16 days, which range in length from 20 minutes to up to six hours. After each outage, Taylor has settled into the routine of resetting all his home appliances.
“There are so many of them that you can’t keep track,” said Taylor, trying to recount how many outages he’s experienced over the years.
He even bought a large generator to try and alleviate the stretches of outages, he added.
“I have older neighbors that depend on electricity for their health, their breathing and their oxygen, and these people are outraged,” he said.
The longtime LCF resident said that most of the outages seem to occur in neighborhoods in the lower part of LCF, including at his restaurant on Foothill Boulevard.
“My business has been closed numerous days over the years because of [them],” he said.
Taylor has been in direct contact with an official at Southern California Edison and always texts them when he has an outage, but most of the time he is told that it could be a squirrel or that they are simply “working on it.”
“We need the city to stop accepting SCE excuses and appeal to the public utilities commission,” said Taylor.
Meanwhile, local resident Jon Jilg also said that he has documented four outages this past week and that, though outages were common when he moved to the city 28 years ago, it’s been steadily getting worse: “It’s really bad now.”
Jilg said that he is now on his second generator since outages are constant in the neighborhood and having a reliable one is a must.
“I spent a bundle on a generator, so I can avoid the pain and suffering of the regular outages, but it’s still a hassle and it’s ridiculous to deal with this in our nice neighborhood,” said Jilg.
Jilg said he has not reached out to SCE about the outages and has “just [been] buying expensive generators to make it less painful.”
LCF residents also took to social media on April 23 to express concerns about the “ongoing problem” with their electricity going off every day, sometimes for less than a minute. Most expressed frustration, especially those that work from home.
One resident said that she was not able to talk to a “real person at SCE,” and contacted city officials to help with the problem. Other residents with the same problem suggested that they invest in battery storage or a generator.
In 2021, more than 1,000 SCE customers experienced several local unannounced outages, which prompted city officials to confer with utility representatives.
Residents were then moved to another circuit, so that SCE could work to complete repairs and implement solutions.
SCE Spokesperson Reggie Kumar told the Outlook Valley Sun that utility company is monitoring any unplanned outages.
“We understand that any outage can create a hardship for our customers,” said Kumar. “We are monitoring the situation and are working to make additional enhancements to prevent future outages. Our long-term plan to prevent future outages will include vegetation clearance and installing coated electrical wire (covered conductor) which will help improve system reliability. We remain committed to engaging in regular communication with city officials and fully appreciate the concerns that were raised.”
Kumar also added that SCE installed a “covered conductor,” or an added layer of protection to the power lines to mitigate extreme weather, fires and other contradicting incidents, along Foothill Boulevard and north of Foothill Boulevard in LCF.
Since the city is considered a high fire risk area, “SCE has completed the installation of about 5,600 miles of covered conductor in high fire risk areas and now estimates it has reduced the probability of losses from catastrophic wildfires 85-88% since pre-2018 levels,” said Kumar.
LCF City Manager Daniel Jordan said that the city has no authority to regulate or dictate SCE’s internal operations but is communicating with the agency to improve outages.
“The number and duration of power outages occurring in certain areas of the city is unacceptable,” said Jordan. “We are in constant contact with SCE on behalf of our residents as we try to understand why the outages are occurring and how SCE is addressing them.”
Jordan said that the city has been contacted almost daily by residents experiencing power outages in the recent weeks, and that those concerns are relayed to SCE.
“The city has no authority to regulate or otherwise dictate SCE’s internal operations. That authority is vested at the state level with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC),” Jordan said.
In 2021, despite SCE’s efforts to remedy a surge in unplanned power outages that affected more than 1,000 local residents at the time, the LCF City Council decided to file a complaint with the state and requested a formal review of the electricity provider’s practices regarding the maintenance of its infrastructure.
The Council was unanimous in approving the city staff’s recommendation to formally complain to the CPUC and expressed its disappointment over the way SCE handled unplanned power outages in the city over a three-month period that year.

LCF has 18 circuits that serve the city. Unplanned outages can be caused by equipment failure, vegetation or animals, operations, a mylar ballon, a public safety power shutoff or other incidents, according to SCE.
In September 2023, utility officials visited the City Council and gave a report on the outages, saying that the city averaged on the higher side in its “sustained interruption numbers” in 2022 compared to the overall SCE grid. The average minutes of sustained interruptions in LCF in 2022 were nearly triple the amount of the SCE grid. The average frequency of outage incidents was about double the number in LCF versus the SCE grid overall.
SCE implements public safety shutoffs to temporarily shut off power to some communities when there is a high risk of wildfire to prevent the powerline system from becoming the source of ignition.
The shutoffs, or PSPS, is used as a measure of last resort to protect public safety under dangerous fire weather conditions, including high winds, low humidity and dry vegetation.
Customers and stakeholders are notified before, during and after a PSPS event, and SCE said it is working to reduce the impact of the shutoffs by strengthening the electric grid to become more resilient in the face of extreme weather events.
SCE also has a virtual capital improvement plan map that stands as a resource for customers and is refreshed monthly.
“It is important to note this tool highlights key activities planned throughout our service territory and is not inclusive of all work and outages being conducted by SCE,” reads the map.
To view the capital improvement plan map, visit sce.com/CapitalImprovements.

First published in the May 2 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.


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