Better Communication Needed From SoCal Edison

The utility company maintained an almost complete information black out.

Arcadians displayed remarkable patience with Southern California Edison during the power outage that followed the . However, the utility company needs to explain its lack of communication regarding when power woud be restored.

Arcadia residents and officials were largely left in the dark for days, pun intended.

In the aftermath of the storm, we can look back and realize that, despite the inconvenience caused by the power outages and the extensive damage caused by fallen trees, we should be grateful that it wasn’t much worse.

It could have been devastating if the wind storm had happened during the day instead of in the early hours of the morning, as people remained safely tucked in bed. Also, the damage to personal property such as cars and homes could have been even more extensive.

We did not have to slug through sub-freezing temperatures, ice and snow in the hours and days of recovery from the storm.

But, we should use this opportunity to find ways to improve our response to disasters like this. For instance, why couldn’t SCE provide daily and more frequent updates to City officials and on its Web site about the status of the power outages?

Couldn't the company have provided information on how many customers in Arcadia the outage affected, how many lines had been reported down, and given estimates on when power would be restored in specific areas?

In the grand scheme of things, a wind storm is not the biggest disaster we have faced or will face.

But, we found out that our new technology has its downfalls when the power goes out. Cordless phones don’t work, tankless hot water heaters don’t work, Internet and e-mail access is limited to smart phones, and many smart phones didn’t work during the hours and days after the storm.

For those who could access e-mail, the Internet, and receive text messages and phone calls, city officials and the provided twice-daily comprehensive updates, along with intermittent bulletins that were extremely valuable and helpful. The also issued multiple automated phone blast calls.

I saw none of that kind of communication from SCE.

Read more by Scott Hettrick at ArcadiasBest.com.
Hettrick's City Views blog is not intended to reflect any position of the Arcadia Chamber of Commerce, where he is Executive Director.

Stephanie M December 06, 2011 at 09:57 PM
Scott as thousands of people are still without power in Arcadia, I am surprised by your use of the past tense. Arcadia residents are still showing remarkable patience and are still in the dark. I think my parents who still have no electricity are dealing with the situation better than I am, 375 miles away. I agree with all your comments about new and better plans moving forward. Let's just not forget that the situation isn't over for many.
Anita December 07, 2011 at 04:39 AM
Edison does not have to be considerate. They are a monopoly and it show's in their customer service. They are slow in fixing problems and fast on cutting off service. They can make mistakes on your bill and end up making you pay for it and ruining you credit report. They are a force to be reckon with and one that is not tolerable.
Betty Romano December 07, 2011 at 03:54 PM
Edison failed this one! I shudder to think how unprepared they are if a major disaster strikes ie earthquake, etc. Five days without power and no communication from them as to when it might be restored is unforgiveable. They are quick to raise their rates but not so swift at showing residents consideration. Might I suggest that as a goodwill gesture they issue a check or bill credit to everyone who lost all the contents of their freezer/refrigerator which in our case amounted to around $300.00...(homeowner's ins. has a $1,000 deductible) so we are just out that amount. Their automatic phone system is so vague it is of little help even if one can get through. A human voice would be so much more reassuring.
Lawrence December 07, 2011 at 05:43 PM
"why couldn’t SCE provide daily and more frequent updates to City officials and on its Web site about the status of the power outages?" They did. Both on their Twitter account (@socaledison) which they updated faster than any city did (several times an hour at times) and on their web site (http://www.sce.com/PowerOutageCenter/poweroutagecenter.htm#) where they provided a detailed map of outages and estimated times of restoration. Most people (me included) were able to access this info online at work, and on my mobile phone. For those without online access a simple trip to a local library (Duarte for example) would work. I was without power 4 days, but I was able to follow Edison's progress hourly. Communication wasn't the problem, the storm was. "I saw none of that kind of communication from SCE." Because you didn't look.
Natalie Ragus (Editor) December 08, 2011 at 04:11 PM
Hi Lawrence! I think the issue here is that not everyone is necessarily technology savvy. For instance, my parents have NO idea how to use Twitter. They relied on updates from news organizations they could access or by calling the company directly. And while l consider myself very comfortable with technology (my job is completely Internet-based, after all), even I found the map difficult to navigate and not very user-friendly. Lastly, Edison (at least in the beginning of the crisis) refused to give ANY timetable on when power would be restored. When they finally DID give a timetable, they were way off. People became frustrated because their expectations were raised and not met.


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