The president of Southern California Edison (SCE), Pedro Pizarro, spoke before the Long Beach City Council Tuesday night, just days after technicians worked through most of the weekend to bring a large portion of the city’s downtown back online after a nearly four-day power outage. He offered apologies and bill credits, promising that SCE would get to the bottom of the outage.
Pizarro started by apologizing to the nearly 11,000 Long Beach residents who were without power at one point after an underground fire Wednesday afternoon. The fire damaged infrastructure, causing residents to lose power.
Pizarro then announced that in addition to speeding the handling time for the claims, all residents who were affected by the power outage for over 24 hours would be given a $100 bill credit during their next billing cycle.
“We recognize that this outage was extremely difficult for our impacted customers without power for multiple days,” Pizarro said.
SCE will expedite claims made in the wake of the outage and has vowed to resolve them within 30 days or sooner. Pizarro said customers wouldn’t have to take additional steps to receive bill credit, as the company was in the process of identifying those who qualify. For those who qualify, the credit would be automatic.
Because of the extensive damage done to the underground equipment, a main cause of the lengthy time needed to bring the system back online, Pizarro said it will take some time for the SCE internal investigation to reveal what actually happened.
Mayor Robert Garcia once again lauded the community and first responders for coming together to help mitigate the impact of the severe power outage, the magnitude of which hasn’t been seen for about 50 to 60 years according to the mayor. Garcia said the city will conduct its own investigation into the power outage, independent of the one carried out by SCE prior to the company coming back before the council.
“There will be opportunities in the future for SCE to come back and we can have some more in-depth conversation about what happened, because the truth is we don’t know what happened yet,” Garcia said.
Pizarro noted the incident highlighted some shortfalls in SCE’s protocol, namely its failure to utilize social media to the extent that it needed to and its general outreach efforts to both residential and commercial customers. He hopes that the claims process and bill credits might go toward mending any damage done to the company’s reputation.
“It is my hope and the hope of my colleagues at the company that this demonstrates our commitment to our customers and to this community,” Pizarro said. “We are committed to working with you as we perform additional work on our system and I thank you in advance as we work to provide you with safe and reliable service.”