Southern California Edison is updating the downtown power grid alongside a systemwide overhaul, after a year of downtown blackouts that sparked a petition from business owners urging the power company to prioritize repairs on the aging grid.

Rondi Guthrie, Edison’s Local Public Affairs region manager, said the repair projects — replacing aging cable, circuits, transformers, switches, and structures — were specifically identified as needed improvements for downtown Santa Barbara area. Though several maintenance projects were already on the books prior to the blackouts, “We’ve taken a special look at downtown circuits and identified additional work that we can do,” Guthrie said.

The fixes, beginning this year and due to last through 2017, are both part of and separate from a larger “multi-year, multi-billion dollar capital improvement” on Edison’s area infrastructure that will also include the installation of automated equipment and remote control switches allowing for off-site repairs.

Guthrie could not specify how much the downtown equipment replacements would cost, but he said it will amount to “well north of seven figures”; the 2013-2014 maintenance costs were “over six million.” Though no planned outages are yet scheduled, local merchants can expect they will occur during the repairs, though they will receive prior notice, Guthrie said.


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