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Edison tries to temper unhappy council over power outage

The city council heard from Edison about the recent extended power outage on Friday, February 23, which caused many businesses in the Village to close for long periods of time.

The planned outage for the Second Street vault project was initially supposed to last from 9 p.m. on February 22 to 6 a.m. on February 23. Instead it lasted well into that Friday afternoon, frustrating merchants and forcing some businesses to close for the day.

Edison representative Marissa Castro-Salvati and Edison supervisor Les Montgomery were on hand to explain the scope of work and why the outage lasted longer than initially planned.

“Unfortunately, the time frame was extended, and we wanted to make sure that the city is reminded that whenever we do have some extended outages, that that’s why we call it estimated,” Ms. Castro-Salvati said.

She also said Edison does not have a policy of issuing temporary generators to businesses, in response to Mr. Calaycay’s comments on not receiving any help from Edison at the last council meeting.

There is another vault replacement on Fourth Street scheduled at an undetermined future date, Ms. Castro-Salvati said, and part of Edison’s plan is to send out a “dear neighbor” letter to provide a comprehensive outline of what kind of work would be done.

Mr. Montgomery noted that while they missed the mark on the estimated timeframe, it was due to difficult conditions, including working in a small vault that held only three people at a time, a worker that was called away from the job due to a 911 call in the area, and a sprinkler system that leaked into the work area, delaying the project.

The council was not impressed with Edison’s explanation. Mr. Schroeder was disappointed with the lack of outreach by Edison to Village merchants, to which Mr. Montgomery replied that they do not have the people for that kind of outreach.

“The focus is supporting those crews to get the work done so we can get the power up sooner,” he said.

Councilmember Sam Pedroza noted that there should be a contingency plan in place to have generators on hand in case this happens again, and called the incident a “black eye” for Edison.

“It makes all the sense in the world to me to have a backup generator when this happens again,” he said.

Mr. Montgomery noted that the onus was on the customers to purchase or rent generators and insinuated that if Edison were to provide their own generators, rates may go up due to costs and the number of generators in the Village would crowd streets and alleyways.

Mr. Calaycay said that in addition to the dear neighbor letter, a better outreach to the village merchants was needed, including making appearances at Chamber breakfasts.

During public comment, Viva Madrid owner Laura Cayley noted that this wasn’t the first time outages have affected her business. A week before the February 23 outage, the power in her restaurant was shut down during a busy dinner rush, and an Edison rep was rude to her when she brought it to her attention.

“We had to comp 50 meals, people are sitting in the dark and they can’t finish their meals,” she said.

The message was clear from the council—Edison needed to have a better plan in place to assist village merchants if another prolonged outage occurred.

—Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

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