Portantino introduces emergency-planning measure

Unsatisfied with Southern California Edison’s response to the destructive December windstorm, Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) has introduced a measure requiring utilities to meet regularly with local and county officials and to update emergency management plans.

The bill, AB 1650, requires utilities to meet with the local agencies in the areas they serve every two years. The measure also requires the California Public Utilities Commission to set preparedness standards for utilities.

“We saw in this last disaster that communications were often incomplete or confusing and the public really had no idea what was going on,” Portantino said in a statement. “We all know the ‘Big One’ is coming — it’s just a matter of when — and we need to be prepared.”

Edison is under investigation by the California Public Utilities Commission for its response to the windstorms that hit overnight Nov. 30, which knocked out power to more than 430,000 customers, some for more than a week and primarily in the San Gabriel Valley.

A preliminary report released this month found Edison had overloaded some power poles, failed to communicate effectively with the public, failed to bring in other agencies to assist and did not preserve evidence of damaged poles.

Edison officials have acknowledged errors, but said they reacted as effectively as they could under the trying circumstances.

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