Policy: Environment & Energy

$24.5M penalty proposed for Edison over windstorm

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News,Business,Energy and Environment,Law

LOS ANGELES (AP) — One of California's largest utilities has agreed to pay a $24.5 million penalty for safety violations uncovered after a 2011 windstorm left more than 400,000 customers without lights and a power-line failure electrocuted three family members, state regulators announced Thursday.

The proposed decisions by the California Public Utilities Commission staff said Southern California Edison also violated rules by failing to preserve evidence needed to investigate power-pole collapses that occurred during the storm.

An agency investigation found that Edison failed in numerous cases to maintain poles or other power equipment that were factors in both cases.

In a statement, the commission said the utility agreed to pay the proposed penalty, which the commission's board is not expected to consider until at least May.

The company said in a statement that the settlement is "in the public interest." Edison has submitted a joint motion with the commission's Safety and Enforcement Division seeking approval of the settlement.

If approved, funds for the agreement would come from company shareholders and would not impact customer rates, Edison said.

Powerful Santa Ana winds generated gusts nearing 100 mph on Nov. 30, 2011, leaving hundreds of downed trees and tangled high-voltage power lines that blocked streets, keeping repair trucks from reaching many hard-hit areas. Uprooted trees remained on sidewalks and in gutters for days afterward.

The CPUC said Edison gave inaccurate information on power restoration and violated safety standards during the storm, which left 440,000 customers without power.

The utility was also blamed for an electric-pole conductor that fell to the ground, killing a man, his wife and their son. The investigation found that the deaths in Acacia, in San Bernardino County, were caused by Edison's "failure to properly maintain its electric system in compliance with state law and commission regulations."

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