The power went out in central Dunsmuir on Sunday, November 9, affecting a large area from the 800 foot bridge south through the Historic District. Temperatures dipped into the low 40's by evening, and generators could be heard running as residents without wood stoves sought to heat their homes. Most local businesses closed for the day, but restaurant-goers could be seen dining by candlelight in Cafe Maddelena. Power was not restored until 9:30 p.m., with residents of Butterfly Avenue reporting the outage lasting until the early morning, according to a source at the City.
According to a spokesperson at Pacific Power contacted through the company's media hotline last week, this outage was a scheduled service improvement project and a letter was sent in advance to residents in the affected area to notify them of the disruption. Though the spokesperson did admit that the outage lasted longer than the 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. scheduled time period, he stated that this is not an unusual occurrence in these projects, which had also been indicated in the letter. 
But a group of local residents are not satisfied with Pacific Power's notification effort before the interruption. In a petition and letter signed by “Concerned Residents of Dunsmuir” to Pacific Power's Vice President for Customer and Community Affairs, Pat Egan, the group writes, “The interruption of electrical service caused significant problems for the residents and business affected by the service interruption. These problems were caused in large extent by lack of proper notification and communication of the full extent of the interruption of service.”
The letter outlines five points of contention the group has with Pacific Power regarding the outage, including the fact that many residents did not receive the notification letter at all, and of those who did, they received the letter on the Friday and Saturday before the service disruption.
“It is our understanding,” the letter to Egan continues, “as related to us by a Pacific Power Customer Services Representative that the utility is required to give 48 hours notice of service disruption. Since mail delivery in Dunsmuir does not begin until 8:30 a.m. at the earliest, this means that none of the affected residents were properly notified. The amount of time given did not allow us to adequately prepare for the consequences of this service interruption, consequences that could have included the lack of electrical power for residents on supplemental oxygen therapy, insufficient heating for old and disabled persons, and spoilage of food among many possible outcomes.”
The group goes on to point out that because the outage occurred on the Sunday of a holiday weekend, significant revenue losses were incurred by business which were forced to close for the day. They also contend that Pacific Power also failed to formally notify Union Pacific Railroad.
“UP runs trains through the center of town,” the letter continues, “and only after the Manager of Train Operations was told by a friend of the service interruption was UP able to make necessary accommodations for the interruption. Significantly and potentially dangerous problems could have resulted if UP had not been aware of the interruption. For this reason, we are sending a copy of those letter to the Federal Railroad Administration.”
The letter concludes with the Concerned Residents calling for a meeting 'within the next four weeks with representative of the Dunsmuir community, pacific Power, Dunsmuir City, California Public Utilities, and Mountain Electric (Pacific Power's contractor on the project).”
Residents can read the letter and sign the petition at the Cornerstone Cafe and Dunsmuir Hardware.
At press time yesterday, Pacific Power spokesperson Jan Mitchell said by phone that the company recognizes there was ‘an administrative glitch in mailing the advance notice.’
“We regret that happened,” Mitchell continued. “We strive to provide high quality service to our customers...We apologize... We do guarantee our service. Affected customers can call 1-888-221-7070 and let our call center know that they didn’t receive service. We offer certain benefits to folks on a case-by-case basis.”