Utility to pay $12M for 2011 blackout

EL CENTRO, Calif. — The customer-owned electric utility serving Southern California’s Imperial Valley will pay a $12 million civil penalty in a vast power outage three years ago.

U-T San Diego reports the settlement with the Imperial Irrigation District was announced Thursday by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The district will pay $3 million to the U.S. Treasury and invest an additional $9 million in upgrades to the local electrical grid. The utility also agreed to submit to further compliance monitoring.

The settlement is the second in connection with the 2011 blackout. Regulators last month approved a $3.25 million penalty against the Phoenix-based utility Arizona Public Service.

A botched maintenance procedure at a transmission switch yard outside Yuma touched off the blackout amid a heat wave and heavy power demands.