(File photo)

On average, Santa Monicans sat in the dark for 80 minutes in 2014, according to reporting from Southern California Edison.

Edison is doing some work in the city rebuilding circuits and making underground vault replacements.

Santa Monica’s reliability rankings have improved since last year, but they are down from 2011, when they were among the best in Southern California, according to the report.

On average, Santa Monicans experienced 1.1 sustained outages in 2014, slightly higher than the system-wide average but similar to the number of outages experienced in the year prior.

Santa Monicans experienced less than one (.7) momentary interruptions.

The most common cause of sustained outages were animals and vegetation, like a tree branch, rodent, or bird causing a short circuit between conductors.

About 45 percent of all sustained outages in Santa Monica were caused by animals or vegetation.

More than a quarter were caused by equipment failure, like in-service failure of transformers, switches, or conductors.

Outages caused by equipment failure lasted longer than those caused by any other issue, including animals and vegetation.

Weather, fires, or earthquakes were the third most common cause of outages.

Edison is in the midst of rehabilitating circuits, a project that started, conceptually, in 2012. Construction began this year.

“Ongoing work includes service requests from customers, preventative maintenance, and repairs due to failures,” city officials said in a report to council. “SCE is also making a significant investment to replace aging equipment through infrastructure replacement projects. These projects expand and upgrade transmission and distribution networks and improve reliability by replacing equipment before it fails.”

These capital improvement projects cost about $4.5 million.

Reviewing metrics from the last several years, it became clear that eight underground vaults needed replacement and two circuits needed to be rebuilt.

Three vaults have already been completed (on Arizona Avenue around Second Street, Marine and Main Street, and Broadway and Second Street) and two are scheduled for completion later this month (on Arizona around Fourth Court and San Vicente Boulevard around First Court).

A circuit rebuild on Ashland Avenue at Pearl Street is scheduled to be completed this month and the other, on Montana Avenue and San Vicente, is slated for completion by the end of the year.

Thanks to new requirements on electrical poles, Edison will also be checking out all of the city’s poles over the next few months.

“Areas designated as potential high wind zones and high fire (meaning potential fire if loss of pole integrity), primarily in the northwest area of the City, will be prioritized first,” city officials said in the report to council. “Based on the results of the assessment a prioritized schedule of necessary pole replacements will be developed and implemented over the next couple of years.”

File photo: A Santa Monica police traffic officer directs traffic at the corner of Fourth Street and Broadway during a power outage.

dave@www.smdp.com

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