PACIFIC PALISADES six power outages since Jan. 1. : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Friday, February 25, 2000

Palisades residents in the dark over blackouts Neighborhood has had six power outages since Jan. 1.


PACIFIC PALISADES -- For stroke victim Dick Crane, resetting his clocks, furnace and pool timers wouldn't be such a big deal--if he only had to do it twice a year like the rest of us.

But since Jan. 1, Crane, who only has the use of one arm, has had to reset his 10 clocks and other timing apparatus six times due to the series of power outages that have plagued his neighborhood in the Riviera section of Pacific Palisades over the last six weeks. "I've lived here since 1960 and I've never seen anything like this," said the 75-year-old Corsica Drive resident. "These power outages last anywhere from three to 10 hours. Since I don't have much mobility, the biggest inconvenience is spending 45 minutes resetting all my clocks and timers. There's no reasonable explanation as to why this is happening."

The first outage occurred on New Year's Day, just one hour after the clock struck a new millennium. At first, resident Arnold Seckler thought it may have been the Y2K Bug come to rear its ugly head on the community. But after repeated occurrences two weeks in a row, Seckler thought otherwise.

"My speculation is there has been a great deal of construction in the area. Tearing down of houses. Maybe they tapped into a line," said Seckler who has lived in the Palisades since 1956. "The other thought I had is lousy maintenance of the circuits." Disturbed by having to spend many days in the dark and getting stonewalled by the Department of Water and Power, Seckler put a call into City Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski's office to assist in fixing the problem.

Miscikowski's field deputy Victoria Minetta said she received more than 30 calls and multiple e-mails from neighbors disturbed by the electrical malfunctions. While she did not know what the problem stemmed from, Minetta said she was working closely with DWP to establish a contact person for the public and ways in which to ensure neighborhood safety.

Last week, the DWP issued a report on efforts they are taking to resolve the circuit problem that has affected more than 1,670 homes, said DWP spokesman Eric Tharp.

Tharp explained that a DWP task force has pinpointed the primary cause of the circuit problems to a faulty cable. "The cable is more than 50 years old," said Tharp. "The normal life span of a cable is about 30 years old. We test them every three years. They could last longer than 50 years depending on soil corrosion and circuit load."

Other efforts the DWP is taking to improve reliability are to increase tree inspections, review nearby construction projects that may be exposed to heavy traffic and replace cable and other equipment.

"The reason the power outages lasted, in some cases, 10 hours is because the cables are underground," said Tharp. "It's hard to know where the problem is coming from."

Underground fault detectors and infrared lighting will be installed along the cable route to easily pinpoint where the failures are stemming from to speed up the process, he added.

-- Martin Thompson (, February 27, 2000

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