Planned Power Outages Leave Seniors in Fear - NBC Southern California


Planned Power Outages Leave Seniors in Fear



    Seniors Worried Power Outages Leave Them Vulnerable

    Senior citizens at an assisted living complex are worried that planned outages are putting their well-being and health at risk. Randy Mac reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on March 24, 2015. (Published Tuesday, March 24, 2015)

    Planned power outages have made life miserable for Dave Taylor, a senior citizen who rents an apartment at an assisted living complex in Thousand Oaks.

    Taylor has endured three outages in 90 days — two in just the past month — as Southern California Edison works to repair and replace equipment nearby. He recently received notice that a fourth outage was planned for the upcoming weekend.

    "It gets to be scary," he told the I-Team.

    That's because even though SoCal Edison issued notices informing him and his neighbors that the outages would last from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., they've always extended past that window.

    "It's more like late morning, 10:30 or 11," he said.

    The additional six hours without power have been more than an inconvenience for residents of the 90-unit complex. Many are elderly and have medical issues, like Taylor's diabetes.

    "Insulin has to be refrigerated, and when the refrigerator is off for 10 hours or longer, that jeopardizes my health because the insulin can go bad," he explained.

    When the power's out, he's also unable to use his C-Pap breathing machine, which he uses to treat his apnea.

    The unpredictability "is unsettling," Taylor continued, "because you just don't know. You're at their mercy."

    He submitted his concerns to SoCal Edison's website, and received an emailed response, saying that "planned outages may not begin exactly at the stated start time," but making no mention of crews not finishing in time.

    The email also notes that "while Southern California Edison strives to provide the most reliable electric service possible ... SCE does not and cannot guarantee a continuous or sufficient supply of electricity or freedom from interruption."

    Mindy Spatt, spokeswoman for the San Francisco-based Utility Reform Network, or TURN, said the burden should not be placed on electricity customers.

    "It’s not the customer’s responsibility to deal with outages," said Spatt. "It’s Edison’s responsibility to make sure that if they have to happen, that they happen at the scheduled time, and that they’re done correctly, so that they don’t go past!"

    The I-Team caught up with Southern California Edison spokesman Mark Olson at a work site in West Hollywood, who said the planned outages are necessary to upgrade its aging infrastructure.

    "We have a vast system of 1.5 million poles. We have a vast underground system as well. And we’re making an aggressive effort to replace equipment," Olson said. "It’s like taking your car into the shop — sometimes they can give you an accurate estimate, but once you start working on the electrical system, there may be components or issues we have to deal with that cause us to go over."

    That explanation doesn't satisfy Dave Taylor.

    "I don’t know why it would take three or four power outages in 90 days," he complained. "We’re talking about the Edison company and this is 2015."

    After the I-Team's initial contact with SoCal Edison, the next planned outage at Taylor's apartment complex was canceled. He has received no notices of further outages.


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