Town Square

Post a New Topic

Power outage affects about 3,300 customers Monday night

Original post made on Aug 26, 2019

A large power outage in Palo Alto has left about 3,300 customers without electricity on Monday night, according to Palo Alto Utilities.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, August 26, 2019, 8:28 PM

Comments (21)

21 people like this
Posted by InTheDark
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 26, 2019 at 9:31 pm

$6000/month to live in Mogadishu. No fiber and no electricity.


20 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2019 at 9:46 pm

It's all over Nextdoor that it was a goose in power lines on Ross Road at Matadero Creek. Picture of dead goose as proof.

Goose, seagulls, squirrels, mylar balloons, crazy that Silicon Valley has power lines dangling through trees in the flight path of birds, squirrels and balloons.


44 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 26, 2019 at 10:13 pm

The goose forgot to duck.


2 people like this
Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 26, 2019 at 10:47 pm

I heard the train horns despite the power outage. No surprise - diesel trains can still run when power goes out, unlike electric trains. Maybe it's time to rethink Caltrain electrification? Imagine being stuck in the middle of nowhere, tens of miles from your home, with the power out everywhere. Coming soon to a Caltrain station near you.


6 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 26, 2019 at 11:11 pm

Caltrain electrification will be underground. No, that doesn't make sense.


3 people like this
Posted by Not A Goose
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 27, 2019 at 7:22 am

Honk Honk


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2019 at 9:02 am

Posted by JR, a resident of Palo Verde

>> I heard the train horns despite the power outage. No surprise - diesel trains can still run when power goes out, unlike electric trains. Maybe it's time to rethink Caltrain electrification? Imagine being stuck in the middle of nowhere, tens of miles from your home, with the power out everywhere. Coming soon to a Caltrain station near you.

A couple of comments. First, in general, train electrification doesn't feed off city street power pole housing distribution lines. It will, for sure, have its own feeds from substations. Second, the Peninsula has very robust connectivity into what has been an extremely dependable grid. Surprisingly, the City of Palo Alto doesn't. But, robust connectivity is available, so, one assumes that Caltrain will take advantage of that. What does the plan say? I assume it is online on the Caltrain site. Third, some systems have backup battery power that is sufficient to get trains to the next station. What does the Caltrain electrification plan say about that? Regardless, one cooked goose more or less is neither here nor there with respect to the dependability of Caltrain in a major power outage. Now, what might happen in an actual major power outage? Good question. What does the plan say?


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2019 at 9:07 am

A few weeks ago, a large portion of the UK was left without power due to two power stations going offline at the same time. The problems included big London rail stations and thousands of commuters were stranded on a Friday evening. Web Link However, this is an extremely unusual occurrence as most of the UK power is delivered underground even in more rural areas.


5 people like this
Posted by Response from Caltrain
a resident of University South
on Aug 27, 2019 at 10:41 am

Response from Caltrain is a registered user.

(This is Sherry Listgarten, from the climate blog A New Shade of Green): FWIW, a few months ago I asked a Public Affairs person (Dan Lieberman) at Caltrain about their plans for outages, and he responded as follows: “We are currently building two traction power facilities that will allow for redundancies in case of a power outage at one traction power substation, one in South San Francisco and the other in San Jose. Our switching station will allow for reduced service to be run by either of those facilities in case one was out of commission. In the event of a major corridor-wide outage, meaning one where both facilities had no power, we will still have some diesel locomotives that would be capable of shuttling trains.”

So as I understand it, in normal operation, both traction power facilities (SSF and SJ) would be operating. In case of an outage, and only one were operating, the trains could continue at reduced service. And in case of a dual outage, some diesels could operate.

I followed up asking what he meant by “reduced” service. 50%? He replied: “It is hard to say. It would result in either trains moving at reduced speeds or limiting the amount of trains that could move at the same time, but which option we’d use would depend on the hour and how many trains were in service, and it doesn’t really lend itself to a clean 50% figure.”

I am not so worried about birds as I am about PG&Es Public Safety Power Shutoff program, which I imagine would be corridor-wide. On the plus side they should be announced in advance.


14 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 27, 2019 at 11:34 am

I really want to express my thanks and congratulations to Palo Alto Utilities for getting on the job and fixing it so fast. Great job! The last power outage I remember was the multi-day outage from the plane crashing into the tower in EPA.

GREAT JOB Palo Alto Utilities !

Driving around I did not realize how many Palo Altans must have power backups. If anyone cares to recommend a system for that please feel free.


8 people like this
Posted by MidtownMom
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 27, 2019 at 12:12 pm

I was under the impression that the city would send out a text ( the emergency text stuff?) for such situations .. we didn't get a text. This makes me wonder if my assumption is incorrect or we didn't register for the alerts?


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 27, 2019 at 12:49 pm

That February 2010 "multi-day outage" lasted about 10 hours.
Palo Alto has had a hundred scattered power outages since then.


4 people like this
Posted by Get prepared
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 27, 2019 at 1:18 pm

Get prepared is a registered user.

To Midtown Mom: Alert SCC (for Santa Clara County) is not used for occasional power outages but for more major events (floods, earthquakes...) You can register at Web Link

Another emergency notification service is Nixle: Web Link

Best way to see updates for Palo Alto Utilities is to check their Twitter feed: @PAUtilities

I think these occasional outages can be a good reminder to refresh emergency supplies and update our GO bags. Don't forget to create backups of important documents and photos online for easy access from another location.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2019 at 3:30 pm

Rather than worrying too much about trains having power, what about all the EV drivers who come home unable to charge their cars? It is going to be a problem when someone thinks they have enough charge to get to their home so that they can charge and then discover that there is no power for miles around! What do they do when they have less than 5 miles charge and there is no power for a 5 mile radius?


78 people like this
Posted by Reader X
a resident of another community
on Aug 27, 2019 at 7:21 pm

musical (resident of Palo Verde) wrote:

"Caltrain electrification will be underground."

You are staggeringly wrong.

Caltrain's electricity will be from an overhead catenary.

Caltrain cannot use a third rail since the tracks are not isolated from foot traffic like BART.

You know zilch about about SF Bay Area transit.


Like this comment
Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 27, 2019 at 8:42 pm

It's not relevant whether the wires are above or below ground. The point is that you now have a common point of failure. Grid goes down? All the trains go down. Previously you could run diesel trains all day during a blackout. Not anymore.

This "improvement" brought to you by Caltrain.


6 people like this
Posted by DB
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 27, 2019 at 9:49 pm

Electric trains have been used for well over a century throughout the world, from the New York City subway to high speed rail in Europe and Asia (as well as BART right here). It’s truly weird to see people here in the tech capital of the world falsely claiming that they would be a disaster and clinging to diesel.


2 people like this
Posted by TBM
a resident of another community
on Aug 28, 2019 at 1:15 am

The Swiss company that is building Caltrain's new electric trains also makes a battery powered train Web Link , so in the future Caltrian trains could be fitted with a small battery sufficient to get the train to the next station. It would simplify the construction of a temporary shoofly track around some mythical grade separation project if the short section of temporary track did not need to be electrified.


8 people like this
Posted by Senor blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 28, 2019 at 10:25 am

There was a bond passed about 50 yrs ago to underground Palo Alto utilities. After doing it in old Palo Alto, the city stopped the program when it came to South Palo Alto. WHY?
If the utilities where underground, the Goose would not be cooked...


Like this comment
Posted by Green Gables
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 28, 2019 at 2:12 pm

Green Gables is a registered user.

It’s evidently too costly to put utilities underground


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2019 at 4:12 pm

@GG Perhaps it is more expensive to keep them above ground. If we were able to charge utilities for lack of service, particularly business customers, how much would that cost.

If Midtown were out, how much business did Safeway lose, Bank atms, 7 11, Philz, Winter Lodge, Ice cream shops, drugstores, etc. Dentists, restaurants in Midtown also.

Just because this was mainly residential streets, there are many home businesses that need power. If this were during the day we would be hearing about lost business. Many people work from home and are unable to work without power.

Can we stop this nonsense that it is too expensive. How much does it cost tree trimmers to trim trees? How much over time do the utilities pay to put to rights any power lines that comes down in a storm on a cold, rainy, winter night?


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Su Hong 2.0? Former waiter reopens Chinese standby under new name in Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 9 comments | 5,442 views

What gives you hope?
By Sherry Listgarten | 6 comments | 2,217 views

Living as Roommates? Not Having Much Sex?
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 2,199 views

Expert witnesses are more than experts. Plus my 7 fundamental impeachment questions
By Douglas Moran | 27 comments | 2,100 views

Holiday Traditions
By Cheryl Bac | 2 comments | 649 views

 

Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund

For the last 26 years, the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund has given away more than $7 million to local nonprofits serving children and families. When you make a donation, every dollar is automatically doubled, and 100% of the funds go directly to local programs. It’s a great way to ensure your charitable donations are working at home.

DONATE HERE