PG&E’s Power Outage Comes to an End in Santa Clara County

The lights are coming back on in San Jose.

City officials say that PG&E’s unprecedented fire-mitigating Public Safety Power Shutoff would soon com to an end.

“We began the day with 68 traffic signals without power, [and] we’re now down to four traffic signals without power,” Mayor Sam Liccardo said at a press conference Thursday. “We’re receiving reports from many residents that power’s coming back on.”

By 5:45pm Thursday all the traffic lights had flickered back on.

The electrical shutoff, which was prompted by a heightened wildfire risk, was supposed to effect 800,000 customers across California. In San Jose, officials say that 20,000 customers lost power in parts of the Alum Rock Foothills, Evergreen and South San Jose. Liccardo estimates about 60,000 residents were impacted by the blackouts.

In all, the outage cost the city about $500,000—and that number is expected to rise. Deputy City Manager Kip Harkness said that the money was spent on extra hours for staff, supplies, vehicles moved and fuel costs. He said that about 150 city employees worked 3,000 hours in the field due to the outage.

“We have certainly spoken to the governor’s office about the public cost,” the mayor told reporters during Thursday’s media update. “We’re going to continue to press that issue and expect that there will be some compensation from PG&E for the considerable public costs resulting from these power shut downs.”

As the power comes back on in many previously dark areas, four city resource centers remained open until 8pm Thursday. All four went back to normal business hours today, but residents had the option of stopping by to charge their phones and medical devices. And city officials have since closed an emergency operation center.

Even before things went back to normal, a visit to two of the resource centers on Thursday morning showed that Southside and Mayfair were virtually unaffected by the blackouts. Staffers at one community center called the turnout from people impacted by the outage “underwhelming” and thought the city might have over-prepared. Despite the low turnout, San Jose officials announced shortly after noon that they’d open Evergreen Community Center as the fourth resource hub.

“What we find in these types of emergencies is it’s really important to get ahead of the game,” Harkness when asked about the empty centers. “Our initial indications from the Evergreen neighborhood was there would be some demand.”

Mark Marley, who lives in southeast San Jose, said his power went out shortly before midnight Wednesday. “Not a big impact yet for us as we just got up and went to work,” he told San Jose Inside Thursday. “[We] could hear multiple generators running in the neighborhood.”

Despite being without power, Marley added that the shutoff had been “pretty uneventful.” He didn’t have any plans to use the city resource centers and made sure to use up most of the cold items in his refrigerator before the blackout hit. PG&E officials have expressed that they will not reimburse residents for spoiled food costs.

Grace Hase is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @grace_hase.

2 Comments

  1. > PG&E’s Power Outage Comes to an End in Santa Clara County

    The “PG&E’s Power Outage” is a politician caused problem.

    And, politicians have made it “the new normal”. Expect a “PG&E’s Power Outage” every October from now on when California’s weather pattern changes from summer to winter.

    So now the NORMAL WEATHER pattern for California justifies shutting down the power grid for five days a year, every year.

    Oh, and screw you suckers who bought “rooftop solar”: it’s TIED to the power grid. When the grid shuts down, your rooftop solar shuts down.

    PG&E is merely responding to the signals imposed on it by politicians, and the courts, and “deep ecology” activist groups working hand in hand.

    Ecologists DEMAND the the “forests” remain “pristine”. PG&E can no longer provide ten feet of clearance for power lines through wildfire country.

    Courts find PG&E to blame, and impose HUGE finds.

    PG&E does what the politicians say it has to do to avoid fines: don’t run a live power line anywhere near a bone dry furbish lousewort.

    At least two things need to be done — BY POLITICIANS — immediately to break the cycle of energy-less stupidity:

    1 Re-institute sane, rational, common sense forest management. Let PG&E clear the brush that fuels the wildfires.

    2. Provide sane, rational, common sense indemnity for PG&E to protect them from predatory, obstructionist lawsuits from greedy trial lawyers and radical environmentalist groups.

    It won’t take long to discover whether the political class is serious about addressing the problem, or views this as just another speed bump on the way to their next re-election.

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