Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Oversight, communications troubles behind L.A. outages

An examination of recent outages at the L.A. Department of Water and Power point the finger at poor control and communications.

Poor communication and lax oversight between the Department of Water and Power and a contractor contributed to a massive September power outage that left nearly 2 million people in the dark for more than an hour, according to an independent review released Tuesday.

But the probe of the Sept. 12 blackout - the largest power outage in Los Angeles since the 1994 Northridge Earthquake - also raises issues that go beyond the initial explanation of a worker cutting the wrong wires, including the quality of an ongoing modernization project and training and safety standards.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who called for the review, said he expects the report's recommendations to produce tangible changes.

"The report ... has indicated several areas of concern, ranging from employee training to quality control to system design," he said in a statement. "I expect the Board of Water and Power Commissioners and the department to carefully review the results and to implement whatever steps are needed to ensure the safety and reliability of our electrical system."