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Residents Outraged by Frequent Power Outages
By LIBBY MOTIKA Senior Editor
Almost as if it were an omen for the new century, the electricity went out in Santa Monica Canyon and portions of the Riviera early on January 1 and has been blanking out an average of once a week ever since.
"We've had five major power outages lasting from two hours up to nine hours since the first of the year," said Bill Klein, who has lived on Corsica for seven years. "A guy could make a living in this neighborhood going around resetting clocks, coffee machines, sprinkler systems and garage doors."
Last weekend's power failure, which lasted from 6 p.m. Sunday to 3:30 a.m. Monday, resulted in a flood of calls to the Department of Water and Power and to this newspaper. This followed an eight-hour outage the previous Thursday, which followed an outage three weeks earlier that lasted four hours.
According to an apologetic Kent Noyes, DWP assistant director of distribution, the problems stem from a number of localized problems affecting old equipment.
Based on the addresses reported, Noyes has narrowed the problems to two circuits that service about 3,000 homes in the Riviera, plus Santa Monica and Rustic canyons. "These two circuits travel up against the mountains, PCH and into the canyons," he explained. "In the flatter areas, we have interconnections between circuits, but not here. We already knew we had a problem so we have been replacing components within these circuits, but while were doing that, we had tied these two circuits together. The problem with that is that now you have twice the exposure, but we had to do it to allow us to replace components."
Noyes said he never did find the source of Sunday's outage, but speculated that a waterlogged branch fell onto a line and burned up the line, kicking out the power for nine hours. As for last Thursday, he said that a conductor failed and had to be replaced.
"We're doing a couple of cursory things to get us through this rainy season," Noyes said. "First, we have already inspected all the trees to make sure that there are no branches that are coming in contact with power lines. In addition, Thursday [today] we are scanning the entire underground portion of the system with infrared equipment to detect potential hot spots.
-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 17, 2000