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Questions Remain A Year After The Big Blackout

A view of the city on Sept. 8, 2011, the night the lights went out.

Above: A view of the city on Sept. 8, 2011, the night the lights went out.


Stephanie Donovan, spokesperson for San Diego Gas and Electric

KPBS investigative reporter Amita Sharma

Bill Powers, Energy engineer and consumer advocate



Western Electricity Coordinating Council Report

Western Electricity Coordinating Council Report

Preliminary response to the “Arizona- Southern California Outages on September 8, 2011” report from the Western Electricity Coordinating Council.

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Saturday is the anniversary of the "Great Blackout of 2011." Last September 8 -- one of the warmest days of the year -- a power outage at about 3:30 p.m. knocked out electricity to 7 million people in Southern California, Western Arizona and Baja California. All of San Diego County was blacked out for about 11 hours.

Stephanie Donovan, a spokesperson for San Diego Gas and Electric, said today her company held a practice run "to look at what we do in emergencies such as what we faced last year." She said SDG&E holds these practices several times throughout the year.

"I want people to understand this is not something we take likely, we practice for it, we have plans, protocols and procedures in place," she said. "We actually have learned some things from the power outage last year."

Donovan said although SDG&E learned things from the outage, there are not specific things they need to change.

"If anything we were going to beef up the things we did right," she said.

The Western Electricity Coordinating Council today released a preliminary report of what happened during the blackout. Donovan said she hopes their recommendations will be implemented quickly.

"We have been working very closely with WECC, and some of the things they're doing involve new technology that allows us to get a lot of information very quickly," she said. "The use of technology will be key in making sure there is some additional transparency between the various operating control centers like SDG&E, (Southern California) Edison, the ISO, which is the independent system operator who monitors and manages most of the California grid."

SDG&E received more than 7,000 claims worth about $7 million for losses sustained during the blackout, but the utility stated in May that it would not pay them.

Donovan told KPBS federal reports have showed the cause of the blackout was not SDG&E's fault.

"The cause of the outages that affected SDG&E's service territory and our customers were actually a result of something other than SDG&E's actions," she said. "There were no actions on our part that could have prevented it."

Claire Trageser contributed to this report.

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