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SDG&E Requests Extension After Failing To Inspect 900 Power Poles

The state Public Utilities Commission is considering whether to give San Diego Gas & Electric an extra two months to file a safety compliance report after the utility discovered that it failed to inspect more than 900 power poles and other equipment as required.

SDG&E Vice President John Sowers sent a letter Monday to CPUC Executive Director Paul Clanon to ask for the extension. According to the document, the problem turned up in an internal audit of inspection records.

A subsequent investigation found that 887 overhead, pad-mounted and underground facilities had not gone through a detailed inspection over the past five years, as required, according to SDG&E.

Hanan Eisenman of SDG&E told City News Service that, following the discovery, employees went out and conducted the field inspections. The inspections were completed last Friday and work is continuing on follow-up maintenance, he said.

"The utility is committed to operating the electric grid in a safe and reliable manner for the benefit of the community,'' Eisenman said.

The utility reported to the CPUC that the problem stemmed from mistakes in switching data from one software program to another in 2010.

The company said it later learned that about one-quarter of the errors resulted from employees entering placeholder information in the new system.

Those entries were supposed to be updated with actual inspection data, but weren't, according to SDG&E.

The letter said the newest information prompted the utility to reopen its investigation. Sowers estimated the inquiry would take about two months to complete.

The CPUC received the letter but has not yet responded to SDG&E's request, according to agency spokeswoman Terrie Prosper.

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