Criticism aimed at LADWP over heat-related power outages

- The LADWP is facing criticism following a weekend of unbearable record-breaking heat. Many outraged customers accusing the DWP of failing to upgrade their ancient system and not caring at all about their customers.

Susan Humphreville looks at the refrigerator in her Windsor Square home and says, "The light is on now but, we’ve had to throw away everything.” That, she says, includes lots of meat and ice cream. In Koreatown, workers at a local restaurant could be seen junking food they otherwise would have sold.  

Businesses had to shut down like the law office of John C. Ye in Korea town where a sign taped to the door had the words “Office closed today we have no electricity.”

Not a good day for some in that area or nearby Windsor Square where Jack Humphreville, a frequent critic of DWP wasn’t happy. He’s had a rough few days since power went out in his two story home. No or little air condition drove him to sleep on a poolside chaise lounge and his wife to a living room sofa. Their dog Ralph and black cat Joey weren’t happy either. Jack’s wife Susan said they’ve been listless.

To Humphreville, DWP hasn’t been there for its customers when needed. He heads the DWP Advocacy Committee and advocates on behalf DWP ratepayers for the Wilshire Neighborhood Council.  

Like others who have been critical of the huge power agency Humphreville says, “They really haven’t spent the time and the money to upgrade our infrastructure system despite promises to do so.”

We took the concerns of people like Humphreville to Martin Adams with the DWP. He is their Chief Operating Officer. Says Adams, “We absolutely understand the frustration that people feel when they have a power outage and we’re fortunate that 95% of our customers had no problems at all during this outage.”

The way Adams explains it what happened the last few days was a freakish thing. Sure our weather forecasters told us the heat was coming but he says when temperatures jumped so suddenly customers jumped to turn on their air conditioners just as quickly.

That, he says, was particularly problematic in areas with older infrastructure where “… we’re actually seeing wires fail… we’re seeing splices, wires and weak points explode and transformers maybe short out.”

Humphreville replies, "They’re out there trying to fix this stuff fine, but give  us an idea of what’s going to happen. You’ve been telling us we have an ancient system. Start fixing things! Stop talking about it!"

DWP says that at 1am Saturday morning some 46,000 customers were without service. By 5pm Monday afternoon the number had been whittled down to 1900. Meanwhile, at the same time in its six-county area, Southern California Edison reported it was down to 3047 customers without power.

The repair work continues.


Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Southern California Edison crews worked Monday to restore power to thousands of customers blacked out over the weekend as the Southland's first summer heat wave of 2018 wreaked havoc on power supplies.

As of about 9 a.m., the LADWP reported about 7,800 customers were off- grid in various areas in its jurisdiction, including 2,200 in the Koreatown area. Field crews have restored power to about 76,000 customers since Friday.

Southern California Edison reported this morning that 1,429 Los Angeles County customers were without power, with 413 customers affected in Orange County and 991 customers affected in Riverside County.

The DWP warned that people experiencing blackouts may have to wait a day or two for their power to be restored.

Overloaded distribution stations, overheated or overtaxed underground and above-surface lines, and other large equipment failed Friday, when various parts of Los Angeles hit temperature records. It was 117 at Van Nuys Airport and 111 at UCLA that day.

SCE urged its customers to do whatever they could to reduce pressure on the system, such as keeping thermostats at 70 or above, judicious use of air conditioning and use of drapes, curtains and blinds to keep sunlight and heat out of rooms.

DWP officials said Saturday's power demand was the second-highest of any weekend day in the city's history, with peak use exceeding 5,700 megawatts, one day after a July record of 6,256 megawatts was used on Friday, which was the most used for a single day since 2006 when 6,165 megawatts were used.

Temperatures, meanwhile, will continue to run several degrees above normal today. Downtown L.A., for example, will hit a high of 90 -- eight degrees above the average. Burbank, where the normal is 89, will reach a high of 94.

The heat wave will last until the middle of the week, said National Weather Service weather specialist Stuart Seto, adding that its salient characteristic will be high overnight temperatures. For example, Burbank, where the normal overnight temperature is 60, will have an overnight temperature of 71 this week.

The NWS forecast a mix of mostly cloudy and partly cloudy skies this afternoon, with highs of 80 at LAX; 83 in Avalon; 89 on Mount Wilson; 90 in Downtown L.A. and Long Beach; 93 in San Gabriel; 94 in Burbank; 96 in Pasadena; 97 in Saugus; 99 in Woodland Hills; 103 in Lancaster and 104 in Palmdale.

Temperatures will be about the same Tuesday, then start a slow cooling trend on Wednesday.

Partly cloudy skies were forecast in Orange County, with expected highs of 77 in Laguna Beach; 78 in Newport Beach and San Clemente; 90 in Mission Viejo; 91 in Anaheim; 92 in Irvine and Fullerton; and 94 in Yorba Linda.

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