SANTA ANA (CBS/AP) — Nearly a quarter of the Southern California Edison utility poles checked in a study were overloaded and didn't meet safety requirements.
KNX 1070's Vytas Safronikas reports the study, released on July 31, followed concerns by the state Public Utilities Commission over a series of fires and power outages caused by toppled poles.
SCE was directed to determine whether poles throughout its 50,000-square-mile service area met design criteria for strength, support and equipment loads, the Orange County Register reported.
The SCE-commissioned study found that out of 5,006 poles examined, 22.3 percent failed to meet state or utility safety standards. Based on that sampling, SCE determined that more than 313,000 of its more than 1.4 million poles may need to be repaired or replaced.
Edison has a long-term program to evaluate every pole and repair or replace those that are substandard, with the cost expected to top $1 billion.
"In this case, we really want to get ahead of the game and tackle the problem while we can, before it's too late, before we start seeing some real problems in our infrastructure," SCE spokesman David Song said.
The utility co-owns most of its poles with others, such as telecommunications companies, that use the poles for their own equipment and share responsibility for them.
Poles that snapped during high winds in 2007 were blamed for the 3,800 acre Malibu Canyon wildfire that destroyed 14 buildings. In May, SCE agreed to pay $37 million to settle allegations including pole overloading in the Malibu Canyon fire, according to CPUC records.
NextG Networks, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, which jointly owned the poles with SCE, earlier agreed to pay $12.5 million.
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