California regulators approve $24.5M penalty against Edison for 2011 outages, electrocutions

Associated Press

State regulators voted Thursday to penalize Southern California Edison $24.5 million for safety violations uncovered after a 2011 windstorm left 440,000 customers without lights and a power line failure electrocuted three family members.

The California Public Utilities Commission approved the penalty after Edison agreed to it in March, the commission announced.

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Edison gave inaccurate information on power restoration and violated safety standards during the 2011 windstorm, the commission said.

In a separate incident, the utility was blamed for a power line that fell to the ground and killed a man, his wife and their son.

An agency investigation found that Edison failed to maintain poles or other power equipment that were factors in both cases.

$15 million of the penalty will go to the state's general fund, and the rest to efforts to quell public safety concerns over electrical conductors and utility pole overloading, CPUC said.

Edison said it submitted a joint motion with the commission's Safety and Enforcement Division seeking approval of the agreement, and that the funds would come from shareholders and would not affect customer rates.

"SCE believes the settlement is in the public interest and allows it to move forward with the utility's principal mission of providing safe, reliable and affordable electric service," the utility said in a statement.