State PUC to Address Issue of Overloaded Power Poles Next Week
• Malibu Articles Helped Draw Attention to Connection to Wildfires
A state agency that regulates public utilities will hold a hearing next Wednesday to decide how to investigate the overloaded power poles that sparked the 2007 Malibu Canyon fire.
An administrative law judge for the California Public Utilities Commission said the "prehearing conference" will determine how utilities and state regulators will hash out the issue of just who is responsible for calculating safe loads for electric line poles that have been burdened over the decades with new cable TV and cell phone cables, antennas, power supplies and other heavy gear.
The hearing comes after the Malibu Surfside News reported that three overloaded poles snapped, in winds that they should have survived, causing a 3836-acre brushfire that took out the Malibu Presbyterian Church, a landmark castle, and 12 other structures.
The Southern California Edison company says it sold partial interest in power poles to four cell companies, and that the newcomers were responsible for calculating if the poles could hold the new gear.
The cell companies say Edison, as the original owner, bore the responsibility and charged the newcomers to calculate loads and inspect the poles.
The hearing is at 1:30 p.m. on May 13 at the PUC offices, 505 Van Ness Blvd., San Francisco.