(June 19, 2001) -- As reported in April by LBReport.com, Southern California Edison's (SCE) June bills now list the consumer's "rotating outage group" number.
The coded number is found in the upper left portion of SCE bills.
Consumers who haven't yet received a bill with a Rotating Outage Group listed can call 1-800-611-1911 to find out their Rotating Outage Group, but SCE will want to know your account number when you call.
The Rotating Outage Group number gives consumers access to information, subject to several ceaveats, about whether their home or business is part of an area likely in line for a rolling blackout.
If the system works as planned (it hasn't been done before in SCE territory), LB consumers should be able to use their outage group numbers in conjunction with Rotating Outage Group numbers posted on SCE's web site (www.sce.com), or announced on radio or television, to get a rough idea (not a guarantee and subject to caveats) of whether their area is coming up in sequence for a possible rolling blackout.
The information may give consumers some idea of whether their home or business might be in a rolling blackout, letting one shut down computers, avoid taking elevators, bypass driving through the area (without street lights) and the like.
However, it is not a guarantee the area will be blacked out, and it is not a guarantee that other areas not listed in the rotation won't be blacked out. In April, SCE told LBReport.com that due to conditions, SCE might skip over one group and go directly to another.
When one goes to SCE's web site (www.sce.com), a pop up menu appears, letting one click to "view the next Rotating Outage groups within SCE territory that may be affected."
A page then appears showing Rotating Outage Groups "likely to be curtailed." [Eight groups were listed as of June 19 at 11:30 a.m.]
One can click on the Rotating Outage Group number to see a list of the communities in the group and to access maps (in pdf form) of those communities.
SCE's page also provides a procedure if one doesn't know their Rotating Outage Group. It also lists groups affected in the recent past, useful information since these groups go to the "end of the line" and aren't scheduled for rotating outages until others go through the rotation.).
SCE's site notes that "predicting electricity demands and generation availability is at best an approximation. The Cal-ISO's forecasts and system status change quickly, causing Edison's real-time electric grid management plan to change also."
A similar system of announcing rotating outage groups has been available for months to consumers served by Pacific Gas and Electric. San Diego Gas and Electric Co. has provided outage block information by telephone.
As reported by LBReport.com, in April the PUC ordered SCE to begin providing this consumer information in June. SCE told LBReport.com SCE had been working to provide this information on its own but it took a long time to merge an outage-management system that fits with the company's distribution circuits and billing system.
The PUC's April order by Presiding Officer Carl Wood directed SCE "to make reasonable efforts to keep each customer informed when the customer's rotating outage block number changes, but the bill may note that the rotating outage block number may change at any time without notice based on operational conditions."
In April, SCE told LBReport.com that due to uncertainties of system operating conditions during emergencies, to switch circuits at any time, including within a 30 day billing period and even on the day of any outage, a customer's outage block number might be changed and the printed outage block number is not an absolute.
The PUC's April decision indicated "SCE estimates it will cost $1,110,000 to implement putting this information on bills, including infrastructure support (e.g., ability to automatically retrieve information from SCE's Outage Management System, ability to automatically update group-level rotating outage status on SCE's Customer Communications Center workstations and SCE's Voice Response Unit, implementation of enhancements to SCE's website, costs incurred for customer communication and education materials."
(By comparison, SDG&E, which already provides outage block information by phone. estimates it will cost about $85,000 to implement the statement of outage block information on its customer bills and fund customer education, including information on its website and in the mass media.)
PUC Presiding Officer Wood said "[e]ach utility has the burden of proof to demonstrate that these costs should be recovered from ratepayers."