Downtown SJ Blackout Leaves Thousands Without Power

A power outage after 7pm Tuesday left downtown San Jose and surrounding areas in the dark—in the midst a record-smashing heatwave, no less

More than 17,000 PG&E customers—including about 10,000 in and around the heart of the Bay Area’s largest city—remained without power for more than three-and-a-half hours, according to PG&E data. A company rep reached late Tuesday declined to say when to expect the lights to flicker on again.

“At this time we’re still investigating the exact cause of the outage, so we don’t have an estimate for restoration,” PG&E spokesperson J.D. Guidi told San Jose Inside. “But we do have crews—working safely and quickly as possible—investigating, and they’ll continue to do so until we determine the cause and all the customers are restored.”

A map of the outage in and around downtown San Jose. Image courtesy of PG&E

Earlier this week, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO)—the state’s power grid operator—advised residents to avoid energy-sucking activities such as running the air conditioner or doing laundry between peak hours of 3 and 10pm.

But on Tuesday night, the agency announced that statewide energy demand remained low enough to avoid the planned outages.

Thanks to a backup generator at City Hall, the blackout only briefly interrupted a contentious San Jose City Council meeting, where officials debated police reform.

City officials took a pause from their discussion of law enforcement to figure out how to proceed if residents were prevented from dialing in for public comment for a lack of internet access. Ultimately, the council decided that the show would go on.

District 2 CouncilmanSergio Jimenez tuned into the Zoom-broadcasted meeting from home, where he illuminated his workspace with candlelight.

Other parts of the city—even neighborhoods immediately surrounding the colorfully lit civic center—also remained in the dark.

Mayor Sam Liccardo took the occasion to reiterate an earlier claim that PG&E’s faulty equipment, deteriorated from years of inadequate maintenance, caused the blackout.

In a statement to San Jose Inside, PG&E said that 500 “heat-related outages” have impacted more than 70,000  San Jose customers since Friday.

High temperatures and lightning from over the weekend, the agency said, “caused extensive damage resulting in an abnormally high amount of outages, with much longer durations than we usually experience.”

After taking a call with the power provider during the council meeting, Liccardo announced what reportedly caused the outage Tuesday. He said he was told it was some issue with a downtown power substation, which cut the lights to West Side neighborhoods, including The Alameda, Rose Garden and Bascom.

“They’re working on it,” he assured, “and will hopefully provide an update soon.”

Grace Hase contributed to this report.

Janice Bitters is managing editor for Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @janicebitters.

7 Comments

  1. The farther down the solar road you go, the more blackouts you will experience.

    Batteries are not green, especially when you dispose of them. They also need rare earth elements polite company would prefer not to know the source of.

    The grid does not store electrons, for your lights to work there needs to be a current. Electrons harvested at noon (when people need them least) on your (tax payer) subsidized solar panels are not flowing when you use electricity at night. The current used at night (when people need them most) is paid for by rate payers, like renters (victims) and evil selfish people (deplorables) who don’t have solar panels. You perfect light angels who love to hate, your worthless contribution during the day actually precludes you from chipping in to pay for the current at night.

    So when you breath deep, look in the mirror, say “How dare they” threes time, and congratulate yourself for your morally superior environmentalism. Remember it is poor or at least poorer people paying for you to charge your Tesla at night, run your AC at night, watch your TV at night, wash your stuff at night. And they also may be paying other grids to take those most righteous electrons you generate during the day, because your contribution in which you base your self esteem on, well, its surplus and helps no one.

    But why think about it right, why think about anything when you are so perfectly anti-racist progressive capitalists?

  2. How can this happen to the 6th most powerful economic country in the world?

    I might gently remind Californians that these specific blackouts are because we cannot supply enough power in response to extreme temperatures.

    This is completely unrelated to the expected blackouts we expect to see because of high winds and wildfire danger.

    But, hey I’m pretty certain it’s not Gavin’s fault. It must be that evil Orange Man.

  3. it will only get better when Sam and Gavin have us all convert our homes to complete electric and do away with natural gas – which ironically is burned to generate electricity. but for the real night time thrill lets continue to expand the already overabundant population will millions more people – it will certainly be those “worthy” folk who will want the likes of Sam and Gavin to take care of them.

  4. Can someone please explain to me how, with bars, cafes, libraries, arenas, the list goes on and on, all closed due to9 the pandemic, we can have a shortage of electricity? Are they saying that if all these places were open as normal that they would have to shut the whole state down? In my opinion the fossil fuels industry decided that with people already uneasy and with completely new problems to cope with that it was the perfect time to scare the bejesus out of them and slow the inevitable downsizing of their obscene profits, profits that come out of our pockets even if as an individual you never bought one of their products due to taxpayer money going directly to them. At this time of so many closures there must be a glut og electricity in line with the fossil fuel glut. Please don’t buy into their blackmail.

  5. Mr Hugh

    How do you generate “complete electricity” and how will Sam and Gavin converting our water heaters, HVAC ,and gas ranges/grills to “complete electricity” get us to a better place?

  6. Hey William, bless your ash, you may notice that no one came close to mentioning your love except you? Whats with that?

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