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LOS ANGELES — The Department of Water and Power has completed repairs to more than 800 electrical poles in need of immediate safety-related repairs after city officials, including the mayor, urged the agency to take swift action to address those potentially dangerous electric poles.
The DWP said the repairs were completed in compliance with state regulatory standards on May 16. The agency met a deadline set forth by Mayor Karen Bass, who issued a letter to the agency calling for urgency to address those “priority one” electric poles using “additional resources” such as necessary overtime and use of contractors.
“First and foremost, I want to thank customers who live or work near the poles we identified as needing priority repairs for their understanding and cooperation,” Martin Adams, general manager of the DWP, said in a statement. “Going forward, it is our commitment that all ‘priority one’ repairs identified through annual inspections will be made within 24 hours, consistent with DWP and state standards.”
The DWP sent out hand-delivered letters in late April to customers who live or work adjacent to a “priority 1” electric pole. Letters advised residents of the poles and urged caution near them
“Completed work may have involved repairs or replacement of electrical distribution equipment attached to the pole, high voltage wires and attachments or replacement and repair of the pole itself,” according to a DWP statement.
Some locations required temporary repairs to return the pole and equipment to a safe condition while permanent repairs will be scheduled at a later date. DWP mailed follow-up letters to all affected customers informing them of completed repairs.
Bass and City Council members previously called upon DWP to address these “priority one” electric poles immediately to avoid harm or even death to residents of the city.
A DWP report revealed more than 1,600 electrical poles were in need of repairs since 2021. It also identified thousands of poles as “priority two,” requiring non-emergency attention.
In April, the DWP reached a $38 million settlement with a Panorama City family that lost a father and daughter in a fatal electrocution caused by a downed power line in 2021. Bass wrote in a letter to the DWP that the tragedy was not a “mere failure” of a power pole, but a “failure of management and leadership.”
Ferdinand Tejada, 53, and his 20-year-old daughter, Janine Reyn Tejada, died outside their Panorama City home on Jan. 25, 2021, due to a downed power line.
According to reports at the time, Ferdinand Tejada went outside when he heard a “loud pop” at the family’s home in the 14700 block of Tupper Street and was electrocuted. His daughter went to his aid and also was killed.
The elder Tejada’s wife, a nurse, called 911 and was told to stay inside until emergency crews arrived. Both Ferdinand and Janine Tejada died at the scene.
According to the DWP, the pole and crossarm inspection program that failed to properly inspect and identify needed repairs to the equipment behind the Tejadas’ home has been fully overhauled.
The mayor has called on the department and leadership to improve accountability and risk management practices by retaining outside experts to advise on necessary reforms, create a position for an inspector general, and report back to the mayor’s office on these plans no later than June 1 with the goal of implementing these initiatives by December.
The City Council also has introduced motions calling for reports detailing ongoing progress to address electrical poles in need of repairs.