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DWP board seeks answers on backlog of urgent repairs



High officers on the Los Angeles Division of Water and Energy on Tuesday blamed poor oversight and planning to elucidate why energy poles and different utility tools flagged as unsafe have gone unrepaired lately.

The Occasions reported this week that the division launched an effort about three weeks in the past to restore 1,600 of the utility’s most harmful energy poles. Some have wooden that’s severely deteriorated — both within the poles or within the cross-arms, which maintain high-voltage wires in place — whereas others have electrical tools that wants changing, officers mentioned.

The overdue repairs got here below scrutiny following a lawsuit in opposition to the town over a downed DWP energy line that killed a father and daughter in Panorama Metropolis in 2021. The town not too long ago agreed to settle the case for $38 million.

At Tuesday’s assembly of the board that oversees the DWP, utility officers mentioned that as of Saturday, the utility had 753 excellent precedence one tickets. That classification means “there’s a direct security and/or reliability threat,” based on the California Public Utilities Fee.

The DWP’s personal normal is to repair a precedence one ticket inside 24 hours or carry out a quickly repair and reclassify it with decrease precedence, officers mentioned.

In explaining the backlog, DWP officers instructed the board {that a} contractor was introduced on to assist the utility’s inspection program in 2021.

Within the first 12 months, the contractor recognized 5 occasions the variety of points that the utility had reported the earlier 12 months, officers mentioned. However on the time, the utility was targeted on changing poles, not precedence one tickets.

Precedence one tickets aren’t essentially assigned to pole replacements, however may also be assigned to cross-arms or different gadgets, Brian Wilbur, senior assistant normal supervisor, instructed the fee.

Cynthia McClain-Hill, president of the Board of Water and Energy Commissioners, requested Wilbur whether or not precedence one tickets “had been merely not prioritized?”

“That’s appropriate,” Wilbur replied.

DWP Common Supervisor Marty Adams instructed the board that the division failed to make use of the listing of probably the most pressing repairs to tell the order of labor. “We’re attempting to determine precisely how that disconnect [was] allowed to occur,” Adams mentioned.

Officers instructed the commissioners that 695 precedence one tickets had been closed as of late March. Of that group, 519 work requests had been accomplished, 157 had been categorized to a different precedence and 79 tickets had been canceled, both as a result of the ticket was a replica or the work was accomplished on one other request.

Board members expressed frustration with the revelations concerning the repairs and requested for experiences again on the deliberate fixes. Others additionally fearful concerning the utility’s separate backlog of precedence two tickets, which may additionally pose issues.

“Past this, it makes us marvel what else is being missed?” Commissioner Nicole Neeman Brady mentioned. “It is a large difficulty in and of itself. And we should always get into how and why it was missed.”

Crews are working seven days per week and contractors are being introduced on to deal with the backlog, officers mentioned. The backlog of precedence one repairs is predicted to be resolved by Might 16, officers mentioned.

On the similar time, the utility is receiving as much as seven new precedence one tickets every day, officers mentioned.

Questioning DWP employees concerning the lack of oversight, McClain-Hill cited a 2014 Day by day Information story on the utility’s failure to switch getting older poles and related tools.

Three years earlier, the state’s Public Utilities Fee audited the DWP’s operations and concluded that the utility didn’t examine its overhead wires steadily sufficient to make sure they’re in good situation.

“We’ve been right here earlier than, greater than as soon as,” McClain-Hill mentioned.

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