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Brian Sumers - Daily Breeze

The state Public Utilities Commission will have more power to regulate electricity companies such as Southern California Edition starting next year under a bill introduced by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi and signed Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Muratsuchi, a first-term Democrat from Torrance, said he was moved to write the bill after a meeting in January with elected officials from Rancho Palos Verdes. They told him the city had faced more than 100 unscheduled power outages from 2008 to 2011.

“It’s unacceptable for the South Bay,” Muratsuchi said. “RPV is not the only community that has suffered these outages. It’s been throughout the South Bay.”

Under Assembly Bill 66, the commission will have the power to direct utility companies to improve services and reliability. The commission also will require power companies to include information on system reliability in an annual report. The reports will include information about how often power disruptions have occurred.

“Basically, it is requiring utilities to correct the areas where there are the most frequent and longest outages,” Muratsuchi said.

Officials with Southern California Edison, which provides power to the South Bay, said the company supported AB 66, and cited a letter a utility executive sent to Alex Padilla, chairman of the state Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communication.

“SCE is committed (to) providing an annual report on outage and reliability information to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and making it available to the public via the CPUC website,” reads the letter, signed by Kelly E. Boyd, director for state public affairs. “SCE will continue to provide SCE customers with “real time” outage information via our website ... ”

Muratsuchi said frequent power outages are more than just an annoyance for his constituents, as they are particularly difficult for businesses like ExxonMobil that rely on consistent power to maintain safe operations.

“I think from Manhattan Beach, to all the beach cities, to Torrance to Palos Verdes, we have had too many incidents of these outages not just causing an inconvenience, but also being a threat to property, a threat to public safety and a threat to local commerce,” he said.

On Friday, Muratsuchi plans to take a group of South Bay elected officials to meet with the president of the Public Utilities Commission.

“We are going to demand that the PUC investigate the high incidence of power outages in the South Bay,” he said. “We want to use this new authority that my bill provides in order to direct Southern California Edison to improve its electricity infrastructure in the South Bay.”