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Rat Leaves Customers in the Dark

By Olin Ericksen
Staff Writer

November 1 -- A rat caused a roadblock on the information superhighway Tuesday, blacking out thousands of Time-Warner cable and Internet customers in three Westside cities for several hours and triggering a power outage for hundreds of local Southern California Edison customers.

Nearly 12,000 Santa Monica Time Warner subscribers were affected, 5,000 of them through the Internet, after a rat crawled into an above ground high-voltage path mounted switch and causing the outage at around 5 a.m. on Halloween morning, according to Time Warner and Edison officials.

“The power outage was due to a rodent that got into some high voltage equipment by 26th and Colorado and heavily damaged one piece of equipment which caused power problems in that area,” said Marc Olson, Southern California Edison’s region manager.

The destruction of the switch left more than 300 Edison customers and several businesses along Colorado, including MTV’s West Coast headquarters, in the dark. The affected area was bounded by Nebraska and Colorado avenues and Franklin and Stewart streets.

“They were some major businesses affected in that area,” Olson said.

One of buildings impacted was a main station for Time Warner, which took over services from the bankrupt Adelphia cable company August 1. The power outage at the building at 2858 Colorado Boulevard triggered a domino effect.

“It affected subscribers in Santa Monica, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills,” said Patti Rockenwagner, vice president of communications for the cable company. “It affects both cable and high-speed Internet services.”

She said she was not sure how many subscribers were affected in the three cities.

Until service was restored at around 1 pm, Time-Warner technicians worked out of the company’s other Santa Monica station on Ocean Park Boulevard, which was not impacted, cable officials said.

“I know our business was affected, so we’ve been rerouting and been using back up generators,’ said Rockenwagner.

The service interruption was not a result of the recent change in cable service providers from Adelphia, she said.

“It was an unexpected, isolated incident and is not related in any way to the transfer of cable services,” Rockenwagner said.

The recent power outage comes three months after an Edison transformer in Downtown Santa Monica exploded during a regional heat wave, leaving some 50 businesses in the dark for a week. (see story)

Several Downtown business owners criticized Edison for not upgrading their power structure in that area. (see story)

Olson said most customers in the Colorado area were up and running by 1 pm Tuesday, but at least one customer, on 26th and Colorado, would not see power restored until the evening, he said.

“We need to replace that major piece of equipment,” Olson said, referring to the switch.

While unusual, rats and rodents have been known to crawl into switches from time to time, damaging equipment.

“It happens occasionally that they get into something they shouldn’t be getting into,” Olson said.

As for the rat, Olson said it perished at the scene.






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