Art Mochizuki of LADWP
Photo by Art Mochizuki of LADWP

Record Heat Wave Inflicts Widespread Outages in Los Angeles

July 18, 2018
LA heat wave

Temperatures soared into the triple digits in early July in Los Angeles, leading to an unprecedented demand for electricity. Linemen for Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) responded to widespread outages, which topped 106,000 of the utility's 1.5 million customers. 

Linemen worked through the night to replace transformers and respond to outage calls, according to the utility's Web site and media advisories. Meanwhile, LADWP urged its customers to conserve energy by reducing electricity usage between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m., setting air conditioner thermostats to 78 degrees and waiting until after 9 p.m. to use appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines and clothes dryers. The city of Los Angeles also set up cooling centers in the city to provide a respite for those affected by the heat and power outages. 

Due to another day of record-setting heat, the utility changed its estimated restoration time from 12 to 24 hours to 24 to 48 hours with complex restorations requiring more than 48 hours. At the peak of the heat storm, there were more than 700 individual localized outages affecting mostly small groups of customers, each one requiring a crew or multiple crews to restore power, slowing the pace of restoration for all affected customers. In addition, the part of the city hit hardest is served largely by underground equipment, which takes longer to restore. As a result, estimated time for power restoration changed from 12 to 24 hours to 24 to 48 hours, with some outages taking longer than 48 hours to repair.

After making temporary repairs to get the lights back on for its customers, LADWP plans to implement long-term solutions in the future. For example, on Twitter, the mayor of Los Angeles said record investments are being made to upgrade and improve LADWP power infrastructure city-wide. By replacing and updating older technology, he said the city can help prevent future outages. "These investments are critical to securing our city's future as the effects of climate change intensify," he said in his tweet. 

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