Storm leaves residents without power

KEVIN LANDIS/Valley Press

Residents of Leona Valley and the surrounding areas got several inches of snow dumped on them, resulting from the Dec. 26 snow storm. Many were left without power — and it still has not been restored.

Approximately 250 residents who live in remote mountain areas such as Lake Hughes, Leona Valley and Mount Pinos remained without power Monday, following an icy winter storm that dropped up to 10 inches of snow on parts of the Antelope Valley last week.

As of noon Monday, approximately 700 Southern California Edison customers across the utility’s entire 50,000 square-mile service area were without power, down from an estimated 13,500 total residents after Thursday’s snowstorm.

Some Leona Valley residents reported limited service after the storm. They could run a few lights and some low-power devices but no furnaces, stoves, pellet stoves, well pumps, computers or anything that required more than a small current.

“The crews are continuing to assess damage and restore power to these areas that have been affected by the storm,” SCE spokesperson Susan Cox said Monday.

Edison sent a community crew vehicle with back-up power to Los Angeles County Fire Station No. 140 in Leona Valley on Monday, so residents could charge their personal mobile devices and receive updates about outages.

“Water and snacks will also be provided to customers,” Cox said.

She did not immediately have information as to whether the resource van would be back today. It’s not certain when the power will be restored.

“It’s an accumulation of snow and some inaccessible local roads that are presenting challenges for crews and it’s slowing up the restoration efforts,” Cox said.

She said crews are working as quickly and safely as possible to restore power.

“We do understand how disruptive these power outages can be. We really appreciate the patience of our customers,” Cox said.

(1) comment

Seirra_Pelona

Per my own conversation with Edison, resolving road access issues in the wake of a storm-related power outage is NOT something Edison handles — which means that if residents want their power restored sooner they will need to take the “squeaky wheel” initiative to call for a snow plow. Knowing who to call, however, is half the battle.

Although I am relatively new to the area, I managed to learn something my neighbors that have been here more than a decade have not, and that is the correct number — out of Quartz Hill — to call for a snow plow to clear residential neighborhood roads. When a local HVAC repairman arrived to repair my central air/heat — which likely was disabled by a storm-related power surge/spike on Christmas Day — he mentioned that some of the neighboring areas had cleared residential roads, and others did not. (He ended up turning around and leaving because my own street was impassable.) During the previous snowstorm, which resulted in a Thanksgiving Day outage that impacted ~700 residents in the Lake Hughes area — it struck me as odd that Lake Elizabeth Rd., which is the main access for Leona Valley and surrounding areas, was being kept clear even as residential neighborhoods, such as my own, were left snowbound and unable to safely access the main roads. (Even with an all-wheel drive, my spouse was forced to miss work because residential areas were by in large ignored during both storms!)

My advice to the paper in writing up stories like this is to ask more questions about WHY Edison can’t keep the lights on — whether it’s the planned power shutoffs we endured in the Fall or as little as six inches of snow resulting in community-wide outages in this part of the AV. A story of this type would be more helpful if 1) It included a list of road-clearing agencies and their phone numbers, 2) ask the officials out of Quartz Hill why their snow plow operators are doing such spotty work — this is not a retirement community and we have people here who make long-haul commutes into the LA basin area who can’t get to work even as Edison and emergency crews can scarcely get into neighborhoods that have been permitted to remain snowbound LONG after the storms have passed!, and 3) Ask for an explanation from Edison on why relatively small storms — small by the standards of most Americans who experience snow for much of the winter — has repeatedly left over 700 residents without power.

Weather-related power outages are not just inconvenient. The bigger question is what such outages may signify about the state of the local power grid. For one, whatever is causing the power lines to short out in a storm can send dangerous spikes and surges, which will damage costly appliances, home electronics and home heating/cooling systems. As bad as that is, there's an even more vital reason to care: Assuming the power lines shorted out due to snow/water intrusion, that suggests that there are cracked insulators in play — which in turn are vulnerable to shorting. If cracked insulators are indeed the problem, they pose a clear and present FIRE DANGER because these same areas that short out under snow may arc and spark a fire in dry weather. (Power line arcing triggered the deadly fire that destroyed the Northern California town of Paradise.) As unusual as it is for Southern California to see much in the way of snow, this was nonetheless a relatively “routine” storm by snow standards — certainly not a blizzard! — and residents here should not have been left in the dark on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas and through the New Year in portions of Leona Valley. Edison has some explaining to do — and so do the agencies out of Quartz Hill and elsewhere in the AV area who have neglected residential road clearing not just for residents and Edison crews — but impairing access for first responders, too.

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