By September 4, the high pressure system that spiked the mercury for more than a week across much of California was beginning to break down. Yet tens of thousands of Southern Californians remained without power. Utilities reported at least 63,000 customers remained in the dark that day--many on their third day without as much as a fan to keep them cool. The outages triggered a barrage of news reports and headlines in Los Angeles that lambasted utilities, particularly the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power. Typical was Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez, who lost power at his home. In his September 5 column, Lopez questioned a rate increase planned by the muni to upgrade its aging power distribution system. \u201cWith the DWP,\u201d he wrote, \u201cyou always have to wonder if the problem is really money rather than management and performance.\u201d Outages occurred over the hot weekend, when temperatures across the greater Los Angeles area soared to as high at 113 degrees--causing people to run their air conditioning around the clock. The strain caused transformers and other equipment to fail. On August 31, power usage in Southern California Edison territory climbed to a 23,269 MW, surpassing the 22,889 MW peak record of July 25, 2006. A holiday power use record was set on Labor Day as well. The new Edison peak was 22,100 MW on September 3. The utility activated its air conditioning cycling program to curb demand as many of its circuits were overwhelmed by the relentless heat. A total of 628,000 of Edison\u2019s customers, 13 percent, lost power during the heat wave. Of its 700,000 distribution transformers, \u201c1,629 or two-tenths of 1 percent have been replaced due to the impact of prolonged high demand,\u201d according to the utility. Power was expected to be restored to all of Edison\u2019s impacted customers by midday September 7. In Los Angeles Department of Water & Power territory, 29,000 remained without power on September 4, the muni said in a statement. Department crews were struggling to repair major \u201ccircuit outages\u201d affecting Hollywood, Sylmar, and Woodland Hills, one of the hottest spots around the area, and a number of \u201cpartial circuit outages.\u201d In addition, crews were wrestling with 117 smaller \u201clocalized outages.\u201d Overall, 2 percent of the muni\u2019s customers lost power, which LADWP president David Nahai characterized as \u201ctoo many.\u201d To cope, the city kept senior centers open until 10 p.m. to provide cool shelters and dispensed water for free. LADWP is planning a rate increase to carry out a major upgrade of its aging distribution system, which has been responsible for numerous blackouts in the city in recent years. In Northern California, Pacific Gas & Electric\u2019s 400 MW peaking Helms Pumped Storage hydropower project near Fresno was off line September 5, according to the California Independent System Operator.