Wiring error blamed for Southern California power outage

AP News
Posted: Oct 12, 2016 4:37 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A wiring error during an equipment upgrade sparked a power outage that affected 100,000 customers and shut down a refinery, Southern California Edison said Wednesday.

The error occurred Tuesday morning at the Torrance electrical substation as equipment was being temporarily modified as part of a project to improve reliability in the South Bay near Los Angeles, Edison said in a statement.

Details about the wiring error were not immediately provided.

Work on the project has halted while the accident is reviewed, Edison said.

Customers lost power for up to about 80 minutes in Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Hawthorne, Gardena and Torrance. That included a refinery owned by PBF Energy in Torrance that evacuated hundreds of workers and burned off petroleum products, creating a flare and thick column of black smoke that could be seen for miles.

Residents of the area south of Los Angeles were urged to remain indoors with windows, doors and air conditioners off.

One refinery employee was taken to a hospital for evaluation but there was no word on that person's condition Wednesday.

The refinery was without power for about 20 minutes. After the outage ended, the refinery said it began restarting operations but said the procedure would take days.

The refinery can process an average of 155,000 barrels of crude oil a day and produces gasoline, jet fuel and other products.

It wasn't immediately clear whether the power outage will affect gasoline prices but the refinery statement said it would be able to meet "all of our commercial obligations in fuel markets."

The facility, which PBF bought from Exxon Mobil in July, was briefly shut down last month following a power outage affecting more than 57,000 SoCal Edison customers.

That outage was enough to cut production and prompted discussions between PBF and Edison about improving its electrical transmission system to the refinery.