Planned SCE Power Outage — Lies, or Simply Cluelessness?

IMG_1655As Jerry Seinfeld would say, “who are the wizards who thought this one up?”  Yesterday, notices were posted at my apartment complex indicating that, this Saturday night/Sunday morning starting at midnight, Southern California Edison plans to shut off power in my neighborhood to perform “routine maintenance.”  The posted message on my building owner’s letterhead, which may or may not have been from SCE talking points, states that “in an effort to minimize inconvenience, the testing will be done during night time hours, when the majority of our residents will be sleeping.”

Oh really?  Asleep on a Saturday night at midnight?  I can (and did) assure my building complex’s manager that the majority of us certainly will not be asleep.  Rather, many of us will be engaged in a variety of activities (use your imagination) for which we will want to use our stereos, televisions, lights, or other electrical appliances.  Many others will still be out, heading out, or soon to be on our way home, and will be entering and exiting the building during those hours, wanting to use the elevators (especially if the residents live on the  upper floors of our high rise building). The notice mentioned nothing about the elevators, so those residents can’t assume that they will be working.

My manager’s response read, in part, “[a]s you can imagine, a utility company of SCE’s size has hundreds of thousands of customers and coordinates its outages based on very knowledgeable research and past experience.”  If there isn’t a special category of logical fallacy known as “Assuming that People in Positions of Authority Know Exactly What They are Doing,” perhaps one can be created for that whopper.  Or maybe my manager didn’t live in the United States during George W. Bush’s presidency.

Perhaps SCE has no choice as to when to perform this maintenance, or perhaps it does have data demonstrating (against common sense, it would seem) that doing so late on a Saturday night, as opposed to a week night, is somehow less disruptive to residents.  But to place patently false “happy talk” in a notice to residents that says we won’t be inconvenienced because we’ll be asleep at midnight on Saturday night is, at best, clueless and insulting.

6 Replies to “Planned SCE Power Outage — Lies, or Simply Cluelessness?”

  1. San Diego Gas & Electric does this every year as well. A few years ago they scheduled the outage for the second night of Rosh Hashana, when my parents were expecting 50 guests at their house for dinner. My mom tried explaining to SDG&E why the night they chose was not exactly a good night for an outage, and they claimed they couldn’t change it. Once the story hit the 11 p.m. news, the outage suddenly got pushed back a week. Anyway, they said they choose weekend nights as to not interrupt businesses during the week. I guess there isn’t really ever a “good” night for an outage.

  2. @author

    geez, what are you griping about? fact is many, if not most, people are asleep in the early hours just after midnight. I’m no fan of large, for-profit utilities but hell, at least they’re giving advance notice. Would you rather they just cut the power and claim a brown-out?

    Saturday night is less disruptive than a weeknight when alarm clocks, etc would be affected and throw off people’s morning preparation for work.

  3. Geez, I guess I hang out in a fast crowd. We won’t be asleep just after midnight on Saturday night. Maybe on a weeknight. If the goal is not to mess up alarm clocks on a weekday, then Friday night is probably an earlier and thus better night. But hilary’s comment makes sense. If the real goal is not to interrupt businesses, and if the notice had read “in an effort to minimize inconvenience to businesses, the testing will be done during night time hours, when the majority of our businesses will be sleeping,” at least that would have been more truthful.

  4. oh yeah, the notice was from your landlord… who knows if it’s truthful at all. maybe they’re conducting building maintenance and claiming it’s SCE?

    Turning off power in an entire neighborhood sounds screwy to me. Have you checked with the PUC to verify?

  5. Edison was doing maintenance in Orange County yesterday, and cut out power to the entire UCI campus for 30 minutes.

  6. I contacted SCE yesterday, and was told that the outage covers a portion of my neighborhood, about 150 homes.

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