Power Outage Miscommunication Leaves Palm Desert Residents Facing Deathly Temperatures - Literally

August 22, 2012

By Allison Boccamazzo - Director of Brand Strategy

Bob Hoffman (News - Alert), a longtime resident of Palm Desert Greens, was working in his office last month located only a few miles from his residence. Everything seemed to represent a typical day, except for the fact that due to an unknown, unscheduled power outage, he returned to a home that was 117 degrees inside – a truly dangerous heat which ended up leaving his cat dead, found behind his couch.

The truth behind the matter lies in the fact that power outages scheduled for this past Monday, August 20 – ones which as recently as last Friday, Southern California Edison (News - Alert) officials adamantly maintained could not be rescheduled – now are.

The result? Hundreds of Palm Desert residents have been forced to make it through the day, where the heat would peak at an unbearable 105 degrees with a 30 percent humidity level. Needless to say, without electricity, any kind of work requiring it to be off could result in a very tumultuous state for these individuals.

Even worse, many individuals anxiously worried about how to remove at-risk groups – from young children to pets to elderly individuals – away from the heat to air-conditioned safety.

According to Vanessa McGrady, a spokeswoman for Southern California Edison, all five of the regions scheduled outages were suddenly and inexplicably postponed, affecting a little over 400 customers in south Palm Desert, reports this recent mydesert.com article.

A pole replacement, which could reportedly be pushed back no longer to accommodate a more convenient time of the year, had to be carried out to remain on schedule with other repairs which were to be done on the system at the time. “Changing it would have a domino effect on the utility’s grid,” mydesert.com writes. “Which serves 14 million customers.”

“This outage might be a few hours, but if we don't take care of this one, the next might be four months,” Edison spokesman Darryl Ryan stated in light of this.

The one question on everyone’s mind is: Why would they schedule these intertwining services and repairs at such a drastically inconvenient time of the year? It seems almost too obvious that this would inevitably turn into a huge blowout (no pun intended!)

One resident, a father of a one- and three-year old, Steven Hecht, couldn’t help but wonder the very same thing, asking, “Who knew what when, and how did it get to this extreme point, where they have to do emergency maintenance on deteriorating equipment at the apex of the heat?”

“I understand the need for maintenance and everything, but there has to be some consideration of the human element, and there has to be some consideration of the actual current conditions,” Christine Stone, another area resident, said.

Clearly, an unplanned power outage can be truly detrimental – and death-defying – in these sparse desert areas, calling attention to the extreme importance of robust power protection that does not require such complex processes for unique geographical areas with such specific requirements.

To read the full story, click here.

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Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli