Southern California Edison and the California Public Utilities Commission are facing a groundswell of outrage from local officials and residents in the San Gabriel Valley over the response to the massive power outage caused by hurricane force winds Nov. 30-Dec. 1. \u201cThis is a huge issue,\u201d commission Southern California representative Denise Tyrrell told regulators Feb. 1. Tyrrell said she\u2019s been hearing from steamed-up city officials and Edison customers expressing \u201coutrage\u201d over the lack of communication following the massive outage that knocked out 439,000 Edison customers. She said \u201cthey are fearful\u201d of not being able to get accurate information in the case of future outages after having seen how long it took to restore power in the recent wind storm. Edison imparted inaccurate and overly optimistic restoration time estimates to its customers and cities and did not provide briefings to local emergency response officials, according to testimony presented late last month at a commission hearing near Los Angeles (Current, Jan. 27, 2011). The huge storm caused widespread damage to Edison\u2019s distribution system, as well as systems run by neighboring municipal utilities. In Los Angeles Department of Water & Power territory--where winds were not as strong as in the San Gabriel Valley--220,000 customers lost power. Glendale Water & Power saw 30,500 customers lose power and in Pasadena Water & Power territory 6,330 customers were left in the dark, according to data compiled by the commission\u2019s Consumer Protection & Safety Division. The munis managed to restore power much quicker for most of their customers than Edison, according to Ray Fugere, commission Consumer Protection & Safety Division program project supervisor. The average Edison customer was without power for more than 19 hours, while the average LADWP customer lacked power for less than 10 hours. Glendale managed to restore power to the average customer in less than three hours. Pasadena is still tallying its response time. Fugere also found that of the 200 Edison poles that snapped in the wind, more than 20 were overloaded with gear mounted for electricity distribution and telecommunications services. Overloading is considered a violation of regulatory safety standards. In addition, 17 guy wires that help stabilize poles failed to meet safety rules. Edison \u201cdid not preserve all evidence as required,\u201d Fugere noted. He said the company kept only 60 pole butts for inspection and generally discarded or sawed up downed poles, despite that it\u2019s supposed to keep them all available for commission inspection following failure. Inspections of what was left revealed some rot in poles, which are subject to inspection for decay once every 20 years, according to Fugere. Fugere made his presentation based in part on confidential information supplied by Edison after commissioner Tim Simon ruled Jan. 31 that it could be made public--at least in the aggregated form presented in the supervisor\u2019s report. \u201cThere\u2019s no question to some degree this was a botched operation,\u201d commission president Mike Peevey said of Edison\u2019s communication and power restoration efforts following the wind storm. He promised an order instituting investigation that is likely to carry \u201csignificant consequences\u201d for the utility. He called for more attention to safety on the utility\u2019s part. Commissioner Catherine Sandoval expressed concern about the lack of information during the outage for medical baseline customers. She noted, for instance, that insulin used by diabetics must remain refrigerated or it goes bad. Simon suggested that utilities may have to routinely prepare for forecasted storms. Such preparations could include putting staff on call, preventative tree trimming, and prepositioning equipment for restoration efforts. Commissioners also suggested periodic drills involving local government so that responses and communications following massive power outages are carried out efficiently. The commission discussed the preliminary staff findings ahead of a legislative oversight hearing scheduled today in Los Angeles on the outage and wind storm response.