Unstable poles that fell to the ground were believed to have been the cause of a 4,000-acre fire that tore through the canyon in 2007.
Southern California Edison, which co-owns the poles with several telecommunications companies, says it is upgrading the old poles to prevent further fire danger.
In addition to being old, the poles carried too much equipment and were structurally unsafe, said Rudy Gonzales, Southern California Edison’s government relations manager.Edison began replacing the 82 poles in April, but put the work on hold during the summer months because of increased traffic flow through the canyon. Construction resumed in mid- October and is expected to be completed in March 2018.
Gonzales said there are no major power outages planned for the project. While the equipment is being upgraded, some brief maintenance outages may occur, in which case Southern California Edison will provide customers with advanced warning.
“The poles in (Malibu Canyon) are transmission poles. We have distribution voltage, which is typically 16,000 volts and below, and then some transmission voltage is 33,000 volts and above,” Gonzales said.
“I believe the poles in question are carrying lines that are 66,000 volts. We have a substation in the Calabasas area, and the substations connect to each other via the transmission poles,” the spokesperson said.
The 82 wooden poles from Harbor Vista Drive to Piuma Road will be replaced with 65 new poles made of lightweight steel, which carries more weight and allows Edison to reduce the number required to fulfill the transmission needs of the canyon. Crews are working day and night to finish the project, with construction taking place from 9 p.m. Sunday nights through Friday afternoons at 3 p.m. Drivers can expect periodic lane closures.