Edison International’s Southern California Edison Co. (SCE) utility acknowledged its infrastructure may have caused the disruptive, fast-moving Saddleridge fire that skirted residential areas and a major gas storage facility in northern Los Angeles County last week, according to a report the company filed with state regulators.
SCE said it filed the report “out of an abundance of caution,” notifying the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that its electric utility system was impacted at the same time the fire was reported. The report stated that “preliminary information reflects that SCE facilities were impacted close-in-time to the reported time of the fire,” and the utility is still monitoring and investigating the situation.
CPUC spokesperson Julie Hall said she could not comment on SCE’s report, which regulators keep confidential. But the utility provided a copy of the sparse document to NGI.
The blaze, which was 45% contained as of Tuesday, has burned 8,391 acres. One death has been attributed to the fire after a person went into cardiac arrest, while 17 structures have been destroyed. Evacuations that were ordered have since been lifted.
Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility was evacuated. Firefighters have battled flames inside the field’s boundaries, but no damage has been reported, according to both the company and the Los Angeles Fire Department.
In other wildfire-related news, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday called for “accountability” for Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s (PG&E) alleged mismanaged of a public safety power shutoff (PSPS) in Northern California. The shutoff cut power for more than a day to about 700,000 customers, encompassing an area populated by more than 2 million people. Service was first interrupted Oct. 9 and final restorations were made Oct. 13.
PG&E must now submit an initial PSPS review to the CPUC by Thursday. The company’s eight top executives, including former FERC Chair Nora Mead Brownell, are expected to attend an emergency meeting of the CPUC on Friday in San Francisco.
Separately, Newsom urged PG&E to provide affected customers an automatic credit or rebate of $100 for residential customers and $250 for small businesses, while also ordering the CPUC to complete a “comprehensive inquiry and review of the San Francisco-based combination utility’s planning, implementation and decision-making failures.”
The governor alleges that it was PG&E’s past “greed and neglect” that led to catastrophic wildfires in recent years and the billions of dollars in liabilities that now require “radical changes” by the utility. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this year due to the wildfire liabilities.
The CPUC on Monday sent an eight-page letter to PG&E CEO William Johnson to have the utility “take a multitude of immediate corrective actions” to counteract what the commission and the governor alleged were “significant problems with communication, coordination and management” during the largest PSPS in the state’s history.
Contending that the utility ignored planned advice from local and state agencies, CPUC said PG&E was unprepared to manage a large-scale PSPS of this magnitude
While acknowledging that PG&E did some things correctly in staging the PSPS, such as being transparent and coordinating with state officials, CPUC President Marybel Batjer wrote in the letter that the company’s “failure in execution, combined with the magnitude of the shutoffs, created an unacceptable situation that should never be repeated.”
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