The power outage that left a portion of downtown Palo Alto dark late Tuesday afternoon was caused the a palm frond that damaged an overhead power line, utilities officials said Thursday.
The power outage began at about 4:17 p.m. and affected about 1,300 customers around University Avenue. Power was restored at about 7:35 p.m.
According to a statement from the city, the outage was caused by a problem on an overhead electric line from a substation on Quarry Road to the downtown area. About 70 percent of the power serving the area is delivered through underground lines and 30 percent through overhead lines.
Utilities crews conducted a series of tests to find the problem, according to the city's statement. The palm frond that apparently damaged the power line was trimmed to prevent future problems.
"Because it was such a busy time of day for businesses and shoppers downtown, crews sectionalized the system. They worked diligently to restore service," said Dean Batchelor, Assistant Director for Operations.
The city is now undertaking an upgrade to the downtown electric system, a project that is slated to be completed by August 2011. The upgrade will extend two new feeders into the downtown area, which according to the city's statement will improve reliability.