News


South Palo Alto power outage muffles concert

Outage affected 1,500 customers in Midtown neighborhood

A power outage Saturday night darkened part of Midtown in Palo Alto and temporarily silenced a city-sponsored Twilight Concert at Mitchell Park, according to resident and concert attendee Bob Moss.

The outage began at 6:16 p.m. and affected about 1,500 customers, the City of Palo Alto Utilities reported Monday. The cause is under investigation, but a tree limb appears to have fallen across a primary conductor on Bryant, Manager Electric Operations Russ Kamiyama stated in an e-mail.

The outage covered an area bounded by East Meadow Drive, Middlefield Road, Loma Verde Drive and Alma Street.

Power was restored to nearly 1,300 customers by 8:06 p.m., with another 100 receiving power at 8:19 p.m. and the remainder at 12:27 a.m., Kamiyama reported.

Several hundred attendees at the concert in Mitchell Park were as puzzled as the sound crew and members of the band Fotia -- which plays Greek folk, blues and pop music -- about the outage, Moss wrote in an e-mail to neighborhood groups.

"The musicians were there when the concert was supposed to start at 6:30 but were just wandering around the stage and bowl. Finally about 6:50 one of them walked around announcing that there was a city power outage and they had to wait until it was fixed to play.

"They went around the bowl playing in front of attendees, some of whom got down and did Greek-style dancing as the musicians played.

"About 7:10 I gave up and left," Moss wrote.

Other than the concert, the city is not aware of any significant impacts on residents due to the outage, Kamiyama said.

-- Palo Alto Online staff

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by not very big
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 15, 2010 at 10:51 pm

Couldn't have been very big since there was no whining in the PaloAltoOnline forums.


Like this comment
Posted by GougedInMidtown
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 15, 2010 at 11:52 pm

Power was actually out for several hours. Power was not restored until after mid-night. It would be good if someone were to tell us what the reason was.


Like this comment
Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 16, 2010 at 10:42 am

Dear "Not Very Big" - (hmmm)

Hard to "whine" on an online forum when the power's out.

Besides, it is our good fortune that we have such a wonderful "city owned" utility company, that these things rarely happen.

I was in the sector that did not regain power until about 12:30am. I know because the small noise of things coming back online awakened me.

These things happen and fortunately candles still shine without electricity. I read a book by candlelight (If Lincoln could, so can I) and enjoyed the quiet.

Even spent some time in the midst of the darkened neighborhood enjoying the more easily viewed meteor shower.

Thanks for the power outage, Palo Alto Utilities! You saved me chasing hours into the more remote regions (and wasting gas) to get a view of "shooting stars!"


Like this comment
Posted by Concertgoer
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 16, 2010 at 10:56 am

Hey, quit whining! The city came through with a generator, and the concert got started around 7:20--it was a wonderful event! The power came back on before the generator fuel ran out. The crowd was very mellow, the musicians had a great attitude . . . all we needed was a warmer night.


Like this comment
Posted by Morris
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 16, 2010 at 11:07 am

> Hard to "whine" on an online forum when the power's out.

How old school .. laptops, smartphones and iPads will operate for several hours after a grid outage. Not to mention that people at the concert didn't all live in the area where the outage was suffered.

Of course, the City does not seem to said much about it .. it's really a shame that the "publicly" owned Utility has no obligation to announce outages, impacts and reasons on its web site. Palo Altans might as well be living in a "banana republic", where the Utility is concerned.




Like this comment
Posted by Bryant St Resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 16, 2010 at 11:18 am

Don't blame the power company. A resident of Bryant St was doing tree removal in his back yard and he felled a tree on the power lines.


Like this comment
Posted by Morris
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 16, 2010 at 11:45 am

> Don't blame the power company.

Ah .. there is no power "company" .. we are prisoners of the City Utility.

> Don't blame the power company.

Let's not forget that the City Council authorized the under-grounding of the power lines way back in the mid-70s. The Utility has been at it since that time. Why this task has not been finished by now isn't clear, but little transparency into these sorts of matters is typical of the Utility.


Like this comment
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 16, 2010 at 11:53 am

It's time some of these really old trees in South Palo Alto were replaced, limbs are falling off too regularly. Many of the local trees were planted in the early 1950s making them nearly 60 years old, and they were all planted around the same time.

Palo Alto really needs to embrace the idea of recycling old trees with new plantings, and doing it year by year in stages so we're not left with a bunch of dead and dying trees to be replaced all at once.

Sorry you lost your power but expect more limbs to fall and this will happen again.


Like this comment
Posted by White Bird
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 16, 2010 at 1:42 pm

I just love this forum... and how you can whine if you want... There are so many clever people living in Palo Alto... and a bunch of comedians too. Cool the musicians did what they should do.. play! wired or not... to amuse the crowd... and bravo those folks who danced until the electricity returned. I assume they had acoustic instruments since they played Greek folk, non?


Like this comment
Posted by stretch
a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Morris, you must not know much about undergrounding utilities in Palo Alto. First, the process takes a while to accomplish, after the citizens have held it up whining about the mess it will make, the dust it will create, the party they're having and need the parking, etc., etc., ad nauseum. There are hundreds of miles of utilities, and putting them underground is expensive and time-consuming. Maybe you should bid on the next contract!


Like this comment
Posted by stretch
a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2010 at 2:21 pm

ps: try getting PG&E to bring a generator out to you when the power fails. Ha! That'll be the day. Try getting them there in a matter of minutes, too. sheesh


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2010 at 2:30 pm

If this was due to a resident doing a DIU (do it yourself) job on the trees, does he get fined for all the work that had to be done to put the situation to rights?


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Of course I meant DIY not DUI! Freudien slip?


Like this comment
Posted by Brittany
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 16, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Though the concert was late to start, after the generator showed up at about 7:20pm, it turned out to be a great performance and the band generously played until 8:30pm, even though their contract was from 6:30-8:00.


Like this comment
Posted by mhardi01
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 16, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Congrats to an entertaining band (www.fotiamusic.com) for an enjoyable evening despite the power outage. May just seek out more Greek music at the upcoming Belmont Greek festival: Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Lineman for the City
a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2010 at 11:10 pm

I was out of town for this repair. Sounded like a lot of work.

Morris,

The City has to work with communication companies when installing underground systems. The phone company has told Palo Alto that they don't have the resources to go underground at the same pace Palo Alto can. We own from the communication level up, they own below. I can just see the complaints here: Our power lines were removed X years ago, why are there still poles and wires in my yard? Why doesn't the City work with other utilities on a project this size? It's a bigger picture than most people realize.


Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 17, 2010 at 12:57 am

Hard to believe someone complaining about Palo Alto Utilities. Power outages are rare and we pay significantly less than PG&E customers (look it up -- it's a fact). Quit looking so hard for something to gripe about!

The concert turned out great with the musicians being very accomodating, fun, and wonderful to listen to. It was a wonderful community event with lots of smiles all around as dozens danced and others listened and enjoyed. Finding and setting up a generator quickly enough for the concert to happen at all was impressive.

Why do people want to look so hard for a reason to complain and be unhappy???


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2010 at 9:09 am

It amazes me that people think that undergrounding wires is so expensive and that power outages are rare.

Everytime we have a storm, there is at least one power outage somewhere local (possibly not always in Palo Alto). In the past year, our own home has had 3 outages within just as many months. I can't believe that it is cheaper for a power company to have all their repair crews on standby with overtime charges and replacement equipment charges every time it rains. If these costs could be saved then I am sure the savings could go a long way in undergrounding the wires.

Sometimes we have to weigh the cost of repairs against the cost of preventative measures. Just like healthcare.


Like this comment
Posted by senior blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 17, 2010 at 10:11 am

Whiners:
The last three outtages have been caused because the power lines are overhead. This makes them prone to being damaged by tree limbs.


Like this comment
Posted by Ken
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2010 at 1:47 pm

>The last three outtages have been caused because the power lines are overhead.

These are overhead costs, then?


Like this comment
Posted by Sorry to hear this-
a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2010 at 2:04 pm

I remember reading that a large company, formerly on Park Blvd, moved out of Palo Alto and went to Mountain View. The reason was a steady stream of unexpected power outages.

Not that long ago, restaurants in the same district had to close kitchens to hot food, only serving salads and cold food, due to power going out regularly, and often on Friday nights and weekends.

Restaurants had to call those with reservations, explaining that they may or may not be able to get hot food, losing a lot of patrons.

There were no emergency generators, or any consolation from the City, from what I understood from the people in those affected businesses.


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Fletcher
a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2010 at 10:43 pm

I remember reading that a large company, formerly on Park Blvd, moved out of Palo Alto and went to Mountain View. The reason was a steady stream of unexpected power outages...

Curious, there hasn't been a power outage in that are since after they left. Hmmmm


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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