San Jose's mayor advised PG&E on Thursday that the city will seek legal action if the utility doesn't present an urgent plan to replace or repair its failing infrastructure after more than 30,000 households and three hospitals experienced power outages amid this week's heat wave.
Residents and businesses were left in the dark for several hours, and one hospital, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, lost air conditioning, lighting equipment and computer access following a failure of backup generators. Regional Medical Center of San Jose and O'Connor Hospital were the other two hospitals affected by the outages.
Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement that if PG&E fails to make changes the city would seek a court injunction or a California Public Utilities Commission order mandating that the company address the issues.
“I have deep concerns about the safety of our residents and the viability of San Jose small businesses struggling against ongoing failures of a power grid hampered by poor maintenance and outdated equipment,” Liccardo said.
The mayor cited blown transformers as causing this week's outages that left people without power or a cellphone connection to receive help.
Some East San Jose neighborhoods, in the retail area of Tully and King roads, reported that the power outages struck down cellular networks operated by AT&T, making it impossible for people to make phone calls or send text messages to seek help, according to the mayor's office.
“This is unacceptable. We need to better understand why these failures disproportionately afflict PG&E's operations in San Jose," Liccardo said in the statement. "More importantly, we need to get them fixed -- whether PG&E does so voluntarily, or under judicial or regulatory mandate. We can no longer merely hope that PG&E will live up to its obligation to San Jose ratepayers to do so.”