The following is a press release from Michael Cacciotti State Assembly 2012. All inquiries should be directed to Eric Hogensen at 323.761.9514.
In advance of a State Legislative hearing on the recent power outages along the San Gabriel Valley foothill region today in Alhambra, South Pasadena Mayor Michael Cacciotti called on lawmakers to require joint planning and response drills between Southern California Edison and local governments that provide first responder services to their local residents when the lights go out.
“Local governments, responsible for the safety and well-being of their citizens, were literally left in the dark due to Southern California Edison failing to communicate accurate information about the nature and length of the massive power outage after hurricane winds,” said Cacciotti, who is also a candidate in the upcoming June primary for the new 41st California Assembly District.
The district stretches through the communities of South Pasadena, Pasadena, Altadena, Sierra Madre, Monrovia, the San Gabriel Mountains, San Dimas, La Verne, Claremont, Upland, and Rancho Cucamonga. It was particularly hard hit by the hurricane force wind storm the evening of November 30 to December 1.
“Edison should be required to develop a joint response plan with local governments and run regular practice drills to make sure residents are safe during massive and lengthy power outages, which are not unknown along the foothill area, so prone to Santa Ana winds,” said Cacciotti.
He expressed particular concern over how the utility dealt with customers who have special medical needs, such as diabetics who must maintain insulin under refrigeration to keep it from going bad.
“From what I understand, Edison did not make a sufficient effort to inform these customers of when their power would be restored or attend to their needs. California Public Utility Commission rules require utilities to communicate with their so-called medical baseline customers—often old and limited in mobility—to make sure their needs are met during extended outages,” said Cacciotti.
Cacciotti noted the great contrast in Edison’s limited attention to those with medical needs and San Diego Gas & Electric’s efforts during a massive outage in its service territory last fall. SDG&E, he noted, sent staff to the homes of medical baseline customers to assess their situations when it could not reach them by phone.
Cacciotti said that if Edison had a plan worked out with local police and fire personne,l and communicated with them clearly, local first responders could have assisted people with medical needs.
“In fire, windstorm, and earthquake prone Southern California, we need a collaborative effort between our utilities and local agencies, with an open line of communication, because power outages are inevitable,” Cacciotti concluded. “We need to keep our residents safe.”
Cacciotti also endorsed a bill by Assemblymember Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada-Flintridge), which calls for utility emergency response planning.
Michael Cacciotti is a Deputy Attorney General with the California Department of Justice and is currently serving his third term as Mayor of South Pasadena, where he lives with his wife, Annie, and their dog, Winston.