Palm Springs merchants want SCE to pay up after outage

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Several downtown Palm Springs merchants are still trying to recover after a rough July. A power outage three weeks ago, forced restaurants and stores to close down and send away customers on a Saturday night.  "During the summer, businesses on Palm Canyon, we depend on Saturdays," said Mindy Reed, the owner of Zin American Bistro. 

A transformer blew around 3:30 PM on Saturday, July 13. An upended manhole cover and pieces of concrete were the results of the explosion next to the parking structure on Baristo and Palm Canyon, behind the Village Pub.  Witnesses say the explosion set off car alarms in the structure even sending a fireball up in the air.  Power was knocked out to a major stretch of downtown on Palm Canyon drive between Ramon and Arenas.  It forced several restaurants and businesses to close for the night including, LuLu California Bistro, Chop House, Grind Burger Bar and others.  Southern California Edison crews restored power by the next morning, but the damage was already done.  "Since that evening and the fire afterwards, our business has declined quite a bit," said Patrick Service, the general manager of Las Casuelas Terraza.  

Several restaurants on the strip say they lost thousands of dollars in revenue and inventory.  Now, several owners are filing claims with Edison, asking the power company to pay stores for money lost because of an outage that should have never happened.  "There's no way that a transformer built in the 80s could handle what's going on Palm Canyon right now," said Reed.  "It's idiots running the business if you think that could happen."

Edison's website says this regarding claims:

"Our policy is to respond to claims promptly and fairly, and to make the process easy for you. In our evaluation of your claim, we may review records, interview witnesses or employees, and perform a technical evaluation. You can help by providing thorough and accurate information and documentation.

We evaluate each claim individually, and determine:

  • If losses occurred due to our negligence
  • How the incident happened
  • The extent of damages
  • What the law considers fair compensation

Our goal is to reach a decision on most claims within 30 days of receipt. The process may take longer when complex issues are involved, when further information is needed, or when extenuating circumstances are present. Once our investigation is complete, we will contact you with our conclusion.

If we accept responsibility for your property damage claim, we will reimburse you for either the repair cost, actual cash value, or the replacement cost – whichever is lowest."

"We can't change from Southern California Edison to Pacific Gas and Electric, there's only one," said Service.  "So, they generally settle for less than a third, than what the actual costs are." 

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