Wind storm damage to Southern California Edison\u2019s distribution system Nov. 30-Dec. 1 has risen to the level of an item in the utility\u2019s general rate case for 2012-14. While Edison could not provide a tally of the damage to its system, data on file with the CPUC show it budgeted $57 million for storm damage repairs last year. When expenditures for storm repairs exceed budgeted amounts--which is yet to be determined--the California Public Utilities Commission allows utilities to transfer money from reliability investment work--namely strategically replacing aging distribution system components--to meet immediate system restoration needs. The storm caused as many as 430,000 Edison customers to lose power, some for more than a week, according to the CPUC. The commission has scheduled a Jan. 26 public hearing on the outage. In a Dec. 20 ruling, CPUC administrative law judge Melanie Darling set the hearing as part of the utility\u2019s General Rate Case proceeding for 2012-14. Darling reasoned that the wind damage is relevant to the rate case since the proceeding covers Edison\u2019s spending plan over the next three years for emergency service restoration, customer communication (which comes into play during outages), and equipment inspection and maintenance. The CPUC is calling on Edison to present lessons learned from the wind storm about the adequacy of its restoration capabilities and customer communications during outages. It also directs Edison to outline factors which \u201cexacerbated the service outages\u201d including massive pole failures. Thirty power poles snapped in Temple City alone, a bedroom community of 35,000 people in the heart of the San Gabriel Valley. The CPUC hearing is scheduled in Temple City. \u201cIn general, this type of event will occur again,\u201d said Eric Boldt, meteorologist for the National Weather Service\u2019s Oxnard office, which monitors weather in Southern California. \u201cIt could be next year, or it could be in 15 years.\u201d Boldt said the damage in San Gabriel Valley--the bull\u2019s eye for the storm--was consistent with winds in the 60-70 miles per hour range. Some gusts may have been in the 80 miles per hour range, he added. San Gabriel Valley was the center for tree damage in the storm--and related power outages in Edison territory--because the winds blew out of the north instead of the typical northeast direction, as in most Santa Ana events. Usually, northeast winds do not impact the San Gabriel Valley, Boldt explained, but instead hit the San Fernando Valley and Ventura County area to the west. Tree damage and power outages in those areas usually are less severe because the more frequent northeasterly winds have historically \u201cscoured out\u201d ill-adapted trees, leaving in place only those capable of withstanding high winds, according to Boldt. However, the San Gabriel Valley is full of trees that are not well-anchored. Some are not properly pruned, some have shallow root systems, and others have roots that been trimmed to repair uplifted sidewalks and street, making them vulnerable to high winds, Boldt noted. Consequently, the San Gabriel Valley--home to 2 million people--is likely to see similar power outages and damage to the distribution system in future inevitable wind storms, according to the meteorologist.