The disastrous windstorm in the San Gabriel Valley in late 2011 led to a report by the California Public Utilities Commission. That report said Southern California Edison must update emergency procedures, communication policies and power poles. 248 poles went down in the wind. Edison has put together policies and plans to replace power poles, and improve communications, including right here in the Eastern Sierra.
Dan Brady of Edison Public Information spoke to the Bishop City Council Monday about the improvement in policies and plans for infrastructure investment. Brady said that SCE is “making a better effort at communicating to government officials about long-term power outages.” Brady said the result of the San Gabriel windstorm pointed out that Edison could do a better job of communicating.
The Los Angeles Times had reported that a study commissioned by Edison determined that the utility had “inadequate plans in place for emergencies and communicating with the public.” Mr. Brady said that over the last year, Edison implemented training for the Incident Command System which many cities and counties use. He said the idea was to communicate “with one voice and the same words.”
Brady also said Edison has conducted “flash-com drills” of sending out emails to officials to advise them on long-term outages. Conference calls follow. He said this would apply to large-scale events.
As for the performance of Edison’s systems in the Eastern Sierra, Brady said, “We’ve done really well. In the last couple of years, the system is holding up well,” he said. “There have not been a lot of unplanned outages.” More improvements are in store. Brady said last year, Edison changed out 25 power poles in its Inyo-Mono District. This year, SCE plans to change out 99 poles.
In addition to implementation of the Incident Command System and improved communications, Brady said Edison will also reach out to community groups about electricity safety for first responders.
Brady himself planned to go to the Mammoth Lakes Fire Department Thursday with that safety message. He hopes to meet with the CERT group in Mammoth Lakes next month.
One more communication improvement – Edison now has a mobile App for smartphones that would allow people to track outages. Brady said SCE recognizes the importance of social media and will use Twitter, Face Book and You Tube to communicate their messages.