News

Strong gusts lead to power outage for nearly 4,500 Palo Alto Utilities customers

Most receive service back by noon, remaining customers restored by 7 p.m.

About 4,500 Palo Alto Utilities customers lost electrical service due to a power outage on Jan. 19. Courtesy Palo Alto Utilities outage map.

Nearly 4,500 Palo Alto Utilities customers lost their power due to strong winds and downed tree branches on electrical wires on Tuesday, according to the city's Utilities Department.

The outage reported at about 9:10 a.m. initially affected an area roughly bordered by Loma Verde Avenue and Middlefield Road to the north, San Antonio Road at Central Expressway to the east, Foothill Expressway at Arastradero Road to the south and Churchill Avenue at El Camino Real to the west. Several communities were impacted, including the Ventura and Charleston-Meadows neighborhoods.

Crews were able to isolate the main outage area and restored service for all but about 125 customers by noon, Palo Alto Utilities said on Twitter.

Crews continued making repairs for the remaining customers, who were restored by 7 p.m.

The outage came in the middle of a wind advisory issued by the National Weather Service for the north bay, east bay and San Francisco, in addition to Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, that was in effect through 6 p.m. Tuesday. Winds were expected to reach up to 15-25 mph; gusts were estimated to be as strong as 50 mph and climb past 60 mph locally, according to the National Weather Service.

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The windy conditions potentially posed a challenge for drivers pulling trailers, according to the National Weather Service.

Reports of downed wires or issues with electrical service can call the utilities dispatch center at 650-496-6914. Anyone who comes across downed trees or limbs may notify the city at cityofpaloalto.org/311. Those experiencing an emergency are advised to call 911.

For power outage safety tips, visit cityofpaloalto.org.

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Strong gusts lead to power outage for nearly 4,500 Palo Alto Utilities customers

Most receive service back by noon, remaining customers restored by 7 p.m.

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Jan 19, 2021, 10:39 am
Updated: Wed, Jan 20, 2021, 8:24 am

Nearly 4,500 Palo Alto Utilities customers lost their power due to strong winds and downed tree branches on electrical wires on Tuesday, according to the city's Utilities Department.

The outage reported at about 9:10 a.m. initially affected an area roughly bordered by Loma Verde Avenue and Middlefield Road to the north, San Antonio Road at Central Expressway to the east, Foothill Expressway at Arastradero Road to the south and Churchill Avenue at El Camino Real to the west. Several communities were impacted, including the Ventura and Charleston-Meadows neighborhoods.

Crews were able to isolate the main outage area and restored service for all but about 125 customers by noon, Palo Alto Utilities said on Twitter.

Crews continued making repairs for the remaining customers, who were restored by 7 p.m.

The outage came in the middle of a wind advisory issued by the National Weather Service for the north bay, east bay and San Francisco, in addition to Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, that was in effect through 6 p.m. Tuesday. Winds were expected to reach up to 15-25 mph; gusts were estimated to be as strong as 50 mph and climb past 60 mph locally, according to the National Weather Service.

The windy conditions potentially posed a challenge for drivers pulling trailers, according to the National Weather Service.

Reports of downed wires or issues with electrical service can call the utilities dispatch center at 650-496-6914. Anyone who comes across downed trees or limbs may notify the city at cityofpaloalto.org/311. Those experiencing an emergency are advised to call 911.

For power outage safety tips, visit cityofpaloalto.org.

Comments

N
Registered user
Ventura
on Jan 19, 2021 at 10:57 am
N, Ventura
Registered user
on Jan 19, 2021 at 10:57 am

Once again South Palo Alto gets lower quality of services from the city. Perhaps we can use some of the millions of $ the utility sends to the general fund, to improve utility service robustness.

This isn't historically high wind, and (thankfully) we're not having a storm that would weigh down trees even further with water. And yet we still have 4500+ homes, likely ten thousand or more Palo Altans, who can't work or study from home.

1) Please fund making the grid more robust. This could be under-grounding. It could be tree trimming. It could be a hybrid (maybe under-ground key trunk lines so that only small areas are affected and can be more easily fixed.

2) Please do *not* shift our city to require 100% electric energy upon home sales -- gas power still allows for heating, cooking, etc. I'm all for incentives to be green, or (optional) carbon offsets for gas usage. But I'm not for taking away the minimal redundancy we have.


No Net
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on Jan 19, 2021 at 11:07 am
No Net, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on Jan 19, 2021 at 11:07 am

Looks like the power outage took out Comcast's internet service in at least some parts of Palo Alto too. None here.


No heat
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on Jan 19, 2021 at 11:11 am
No heat, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on Jan 19, 2021 at 11:11 am

My heating system, like almost all such systems in Palo Alto, requires electricity to operate, even though it burns fossil gas to produce heat. A power outage means no heat, irrespective of the fuel source.

Emergency cooking can be done on a camping stove. Or I can just eat PB&J until power is restored. Just fine by me.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 19, 2021 at 11:37 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Jan 19, 2021 at 11:37 am

Speaking of the millions PA Utilities sends to the General Fund, when are we getting the money from the successful lawsuit against PAU's "overcharges" of customers?

The city attorney manages to implement some projects quickly like opening Foothill while slow-walking the settlement that could put money into our pockets after a horrible COVID year. Stop stalling and/or pay us interest


N
Registered user
Ventura
on Jan 19, 2021 at 5:15 pm
N, Ventura
Registered user
on Jan 19, 2021 at 5:15 pm

@No heat

Speak for yourself - we have an efficient gas fireplace and a gas stove, both of which work when the power is out.

Do you really think all residents of this city, one of the most rich in residents' education, jobs, technology and wealth, and with perhaps the highest cost of living in the country, should recommend "just buy a camping stove for when our flaky grid is down"???


Kevin
Registered user
Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jan 19, 2021 at 7:20 pm
Kevin, Greendell/Walnut Grove
Registered user
on Jan 19, 2021 at 7:20 pm

My Comcast service has been out since about 9:15 this morning, due to the wind, or so Comcast say.


We need more transparency about outages
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Jan 20, 2021 at 10:35 am
We need more transparency about outages, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Jan 20, 2021 at 10:35 am

I am all for electrifying our heat. We are destroying our planet by burning fossil fuels and we have to stop.

I am not for freezing while doing it, but it is misleading at best to suggest we are signing up for that.

Our furnace and our hot water heater both burn gas but need electricity. We have never had them operating during power outages. And, guess what, I've never even noticed. (I didn't even know they needed power until I checked.)

During this most recent outage we again didn't notice it. In fact, we used hot water because the tank had plenty. Just as we use the refrigerator. We just don't hang out with the door open.

Please, keep this in perspective. There is no meaningful or even noticeable impact of electrifying our heat in this area when it comes to power outages.

The utilities would be better served by being more transparent about the frequency, location, and duration of outages. That would help to put this fearmongering to rest.


marc665
Registered user
Midtown
on Jan 20, 2021 at 11:18 am
marc665, Midtown
Registered user
on Jan 20, 2021 at 11:18 am

It's clear that the CA PUC should start an investigation in the operations of the Palo Alto Utilities. It is clear that the department is not maintaining the utilities infrastructure and the management should be held accountable. Why is there not adequate tree trimming? Why are there not redundant supplies?

Why shouldn't the Palo Alto Utilities department held to the same level as PG&E?

/marc


Mondoman
Registered user
Green Acres
on Jan 20, 2021 at 5:48 pm
Mondoman, Green Acres
Registered user
on Jan 20, 2021 at 5:48 pm

Our 10 year old gas furnace needs electricity for the blower system, but our year-old gas hot water heater needs no outside electricity (its microcontroller is powered by a small thermoelectric module). It was nice to have hot water as the house slowly cooled due to lack of heating, especially with mature people in the household.


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