After recent record rainfall in Los Angeles knocked out service to 12 percent of its customers, the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power will have to modernize its distribution system, said Henry Martinez, assistant general manager of power for the department. Martinez would not reveal whether that modernization requires a rate increase. ?Distribution needs more investment going forward,? Martinez responded when Los Angeles City Council member and panel chair Tony Cardenas asked whether the needed upgrades would require a rate increase. He testified at a January 31 oversight hearing of the city council?s Committee on Commerce, Energy, and Natural Resources. Southern California Edison also endured extensive damage during the recent storms, which caused up to 550,000 customers to lose power. The area?s vulnerabilities became apparent beginning December 28, the outset of 15 days of consecutive storms that brought the heaviest rainfall Angelenos have seen since 1966. Damage to the muni?s distribution system mounted, forcing the department to bring repair crews from Utah, Nevada, and Owens Valley to restore service. No more than 20,000 customers lost power at any one time, according to Martinez, but crews worked 16-hour shifts to try to restore power to customers within four hours. There were some predictable causes of severed lines, including tree limbs broken by heavy winds and trees toppled because of soggy soils. There also were some surprises, Martinez said. These included palm fronds that blew long distances to short out lines, and flooded underground utility vaults. ?The outages that occurred mostly were in the underground system,? Martinez said. Many of the distribution circuits remain jury-rigged, so the department is working to restore portions of the network to its original configuration. Meanwhile, new customer hookups have been delayed. Long-term modernization steps include replacing old poles and underground cables and adding supervisory control and data-acquisition capability to the distribution network. Martinez said the department also will need to redouble its efforts to trim trees and conduct annual overhead and underground system inspections. In Edison territory, the primary problems occurred in mountainous communities where heavy snow snapped tree branches and downed power lines, said company spokesperson Tom Boyd. Crews had difficulty getting into the mountainous areas to service the equipment. Edison experienced only four outages due to flooded vaults, said Boyd, compared to 25 downed lines, 25 broken poles, and 15 transformers that failed. He said that equipment in vaults should be able to withstand some water if it is in good repair. <b>Los Angeles Muni Repowers<\/b> LADWP is pursuing a $1.8 billion program to repower its major generating stations. Earlier this week, it placed back on line its upgraded 575 MW Haynes Generating Station. The department serves 3.8 million people. The Long Beach Haynes plant, repowered with combined-cycle units, is 40 percent more fuel efficient. It will emit just 6 percent of the pollution produced by the original plant, which was built in the 1960s. The Haynes repowering cost $375 million and follows the department?s upgrade of its 533 MW Valley Generating Station in Sun Valley completed last year.