Update, 1:35 a.m. Tuesday: The power outage that hit southwest Palo Alto Monday night appears to be ending. The city’s utility department just released an update saying the number of customers without power has dropped to 36. A few hours ago, 4,462 customers lost power. Still no word on the cause of the outage.
Original report, 12:01 a.m. Tuesday: The Palo Alto Utilities Department reports that 4,462 customers lost power as of 10:33 p.m. Monday, September 6. Estimated time for restoration is 8:00 a.m.
The city did not give a cause for the outage.
As the map shows, the outage is primarily in southwest Palo Alto.
This is the sixth power outage in Palo Alto this year. The previous ones were on:
• August 22 — 3,400 customers lost power in the northeast part of the city;
• August 8 — A bird in a transformer knocked out power to 60 customers in south Palo Alto;
• August 5 — A tree branch fell on a power line, knocking out power to 1,700 customers;
• June 14 — A tree branch knocked out power to approximately 225 customers in the Barron Park area, including Matadero Avenue, Margarita Avenue and Roble Ridge;
• February 18 — A mylar balloon floated in a power line and caused a short circuit that resulted in the loss of power to 4,500 customers in southeast Palo Alto.
For the past five days, state officials have urged residents to conserve power between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. to avoid blackouts.
High temperatures have led to increased use of air conditioners.
Palo Alto’s high on Monday was 98 degrees, breaking the 2008 record of 95.
However, network managers did not announce any power outages on Monday. PG&E, which supplies electricity to the Palo Alto municipal utility, was reporting scattered outages in the South Bay due to transformer failures.
PG&E said the transformers needed time to cool down or they would fail, and temperatures did not drop enough overnight. PG&E reported isolated outages in Sunnyvale, Campbell, Santa Clara and several San Jose neighborhoods.
A surge in demand is expected today as people return to work, which will boost demand for electricity.
California’s Independent System Operator, which runs the state’s power grid, is bracing for energy shortfalls and said rolling blackouts were possible on Monday.
“We have now entered the most intense phase of this heat wave,” said Elliot Mainzer, the system’s general manager. “Demand forecast for Monday and Tuesday is at all-time highs and the potential for rotating outages has increased significantly.”
The state envisions power deficits of 2,000 to 4,000 megawatts, or up to 10 percent of normal electricity demand.
“In fact, we need two to three times the savings of what we’ve been experiencing to keep power going,” Mainzer said.
During the heatwave of the past five days, consumers did better than expected, officials said.
Power consumption over the past two evenings was about 1,000 megawatts lower than expected, about 2% below the state’s power consumption forecast, Mainzer said.
“We know it’s been a long time and it’s about to get even harder, but the efforts of electricity consumers and our utility and state agency partners are making a real difference,” said Mainzer.
A statewide Flex Alert is in place Monday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., and ISO also issued Energy Emergency Alert 1 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., indicating that energy deficiencies are expected as all resources are used or committed.
During a Flex alert, residents are asked to set their thermostats to 78 degrees, not to cook anything with an electric oven, not to use a washer or dryer, and to avoid charging electric cars until the night. — Wire staff and reports