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November 19
2003 - U.S. Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon introduces the first of several bills intended to block the 78-million-ton Cemex gravel mine in Soledad Canyon [story]
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wilk transparency billSACRAMENTO – State Sen. Scott Wilk, representing the 21st Senate District, announces he is requesting the governor and legislative leaders authorize a special session of the legislature to investigate the Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) conducted by the investor owned utilities (IOUs).

“California is the fifth largest economy in the world but when the wind blows the power goes out for millions of Californians. That is a totally unacceptable scenario yet, according to the IOUs, it will be the new normal for the next decade,” said Wilk, R-Santa Clarita. “Last week, a teacher in my district watched her home burn to the ground. Without power her well was inoperable and there was no way to even pump water to a garden hose. How anyone could accept this as the ‘new normal’ is beyond me. I am calling for a full audit so we get to the bottom of the policies that put this in place.”

PSPS outages can eliminate the ability to pump water as well as shut off life-saving equipment like ventilators, sleep apnea and dialysis machines. Disabled individuals can also be left immobile once their battery packs run out.

Wilk is requesting a special session of the Legislature in order for the Joint Legislative Audit Committee to meet and approve an audit of the Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) guidelines and Investor Owned Utilities’ (IOUs) practices concerning the Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS).

Wilk’s letter can be found here.

The investigation must determine whether these power shutoffs are being conducted in a manner where they are necessary, whether less burdensome alternatives are being ignored, and whether the IOUs are simply choosing to shut off the power to avoid any costs of maintenance or making any lasting investments in their infrastructure.

“Calls for the PUC to investigate these shutoffs is like asking the fox to audit the hen house. The investigating agency must be completely independent from undue influence of both the administration and IOUs, said Wilk. “The State Auditor has a proven track record of independence and thoroughness in her investigations, ”

Earlier last week Wilk and Lackey personally rented a generator and brought it to a retired veteran in need of oxygen. The power had been off for over 24 hours, rendering his ventilator useless without a generator. Wilk and Lackey also requested the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provide personal generators and water deliveries to the rural communities affected.

Senator Wilk represents the 21st Senate District which includes the Antelope, Santa Clarita and Victor Valleys.

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4 Comments

  1. Senator Scott Wilk, when dealing with the power shut offs, keep this in mind, please! In Canyon Country, there is a 4 story building with 200 apartments full of seniors. When the power goes off the elevators stop working! Some of the incapacitated tenants are in wheelchairs. They are on the 4th, 3rd and 2nd floors! If our complex, too close to the Tick Fire had caught fire, there might have been a DEATH or more! If the power company is going to put lives in jeopardy the way they did, perhaps they should supply back-up generators to keep the elevators operable! Also, no power, no cooking, no eating, spoiled food, low income folks can not afford to replace food already purchased! I realize some people lost their lives, lost their homes, but they can evacuate, some people have no choice and can not leave!

  2. MReid says:

    Shutting off the power makes no sense. Trimming around power lines does. People have to clear 300′ around their properties for a fire break. Power companies should have to do the same, or commensurate with the size of the lines.

  3. jim says:

    It’s actually much worse than most people think. Overhead (OH) power lines can be made “safe” up to a certain point; winds powerful enough to snap 50-60 foot tall poles and/or the cross-arms/insulators are something that has been very rare over the last 50 years*.

    Newer developments in the SCV have underground distribution circuits (aka “neighborhood services”) but even those tracts are still mostly served by SCE’s OH 66Kv sub-transmission lines – and that means they are vulnerable under the recent (new?) levels of weather/winds we have seen lately.

    For-profit utilities have tended to defer maintenance as long as possible in order to maximize profits on an annual basis, and have over the years reduced their “investment” costs to keep shareholders/bondholder’s happy with their returns on investments(ROI).

    If This Goes On…how long do you think it will be before we are all waiting for the lights to come back on?

    *You can look it up. Unless of course you don’t trust the PUC…

  4. Brian says:

    Bury the power lines. Problem solved.

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