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.”
PG&E has told the City it expects 99% of San José residents who lost power during the shutoff to have their power restored by tomorrow. I’ve spoken with the CEO of PG&E, and pressed him to prioritize re-energizing our most heavily populated areas first.
— Sam Liccardo (@sliccardo) October 11, 2019
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.”
This team of multilingual City employees has done important work during the #PGEshutoff: calling to check in on nearly 900 San Jose residents in areas affected by the blackout who rely on electricity for their medical care. pic.twitter.com/QeH37cuboO
— City of San José (@CityofSanJose) October 11, 2019
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.
A fourth City Resource Center has opened at the Evergreen Community Center, 4860 San Felipe Road. All centers will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the rest of the #PGEshutoff, with water, light snacks, charging stations. More information: https://t.co/klTY69dMBw @sjparksandrec pic.twitter.com/cBYMD3dtPt
— City of San José (@CityofSanJose) October 10, 2019
“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.