Power restored to more than 1K customers in downtown area

Service restored for a majority of customers early Wednesday morning

Electrical service has been restored to more than 1,000 utility customers affected by a power outage in the downtown Palo Alto area that started Tuesday night, according to the city's Utilities Department.

Around 11 p.m., the department sent a tweet about the outage affecting service for an area including Alma Street, Melville Avenue, Ramona Street and Kingsley Avenue.

The impacted area covered the Old Palo Alto, University South and Professorville neighborhoods, Utilities Department spokeswoman Catherine Elvert said in an email.

The outage started around 10:35 p.m. disrupting service for about 1,100 customers, she said.

A majority of those customers received power back at 1:37 a.m. Wednesday. The department initially estimated a restoration time of 3 a.m. The remaining 300 customers received electricity back around 9:40 a.m.

Utilities crews responded to the scene to investigate and worked to repair the outage. They found a 12KV circuit tripped, Elvert said. Crews were patrolling an area covering Ramona and Cowper streets early Wednesday morning.

The outage was caused by a failure of an underground switch and/or underground cable failure, according to Elvert.


Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story indicated more than 2,000 customers were affected on the city's outage map, but Utilities Department spokeswoman Catherine Elvert clarified that about 1,100 customers were initially without service.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


11 people like this
Posted by Sonic
a resident of University South
on Jul 5, 2017 at 3:19 am

We are still out of electricity at 3:17 am. Thanks for your report of the downtown power outage.

1 person likes this
Posted by Richard Waldinger
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 5, 2017 at 6:05 am

We had power by 4:40am. Before that I was sleeping.

1 person likes this
Posted by 94301 Cowper
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 5, 2017 at 7:55 am

Well, we're Cowper and Channing and still no power. Heard it could still be a couple more hours. Really should've eaten that gelato last night. :)

Like this comment
Posted by Mayfield
a resident of Mayfield
on Jul 5, 2017 at 9:22 am

Our lights flickered around then down near Cal Ave.

Like this comment
Posted by Sonic
a resident of University South
on Jul 5, 2017 at 10:16 am

Power came back around 9:40 am on Ramona street home. Thanks.

35 people like this
Posted by Downtown parent
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 5, 2017 at 12:16 pm

We were without electricity for almost 12 hours. The refrigerator and entertainment crisis was not my priority. But the landlines were down and you had no means to charge you cell-phone. Therefore, you literally lost all types of communication for such a long period of time, and at night. Went to a City Hall and spoke to a Utilities supervisor. It would make sense, for situations like this, to organize some kind of device charging station, to reach out to the customers with updates, and/or to possibly offer other incentives to those affected by such an emergency.

21 people like this
Posted by Ted
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 5, 2017 at 12:31 pm

What causes an "underground switch/cable failure?"

34 people like this
Posted by Party Packs $$$$$$$
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 5, 2017 at 12:43 pm

Got refunds? Even refrigerator manufactures give refunds for spoiled food. The city makes money from "use tax" connections to all our phone and cable services.

Maybe instead if raising fees and rates, the city could cut out nonsense like providing our wealthy city with Party Packs of glasses and plastic plates? $25 compost bins that remain unused and whose use requires lots of $$$$$$$$$ in ads and mailers to explain how to use them.

24 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 5, 2017 at 12:54 pm

"What causes an "underground switch/cable failure?""

It could be too many Teslas being charged at the same time. The system overheated.

10 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 5, 2017 at 5:42 pm

@Downtown parent. If urgent, you could always charge in your car.

20 people like this
Posted by Cody
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 5, 2017 at 8:40 pm

What causes an "underground switch/cable failure?"
It'd be great if a reporter actually investigated this question.

11 people like this
Posted by Professorville Resident
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 6, 2017 at 9:43 am

@Downtown parent
It really sucks that the electricity was gone for so long for you.

The silver lining may be that you now know what it may be like after an earthquake causes the electricity to go away for an extended period of time.

So, be prepared!

Go get your family some non-grid means of getting electricity and communications (there are usb chargers that work off of alkaline, solar rechargers, battery backups, lanterns which can charge USBs, etc). Many of these are pretty cheap (<$30).

This isn't to say that the city shouldn't have some better responses (the websites weren't displaying the outage, the phone system won't let you report unless your phone number is know to the utility, etc etc.).

8 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 6, 2017 at 11:01 am

No comment yet about traffic signals. After the Shoreline fireworks I drove to Happy Donuts around 11pm and then north on ECR heading for downtown, with thoughts of noting the number of parked RVs. Began to seem atypically dark and downright disorienting out there, then Embarcadero snuck up on me and I screeched to a halt at the blackened intersection. I pulled into the invisible Town & Country Village to watch what other traffic would do. Just about everyone on El Camino sailed through at 35 to 45 mph, including buses, trucks and taxis, whom I'd consider to be professional drivers. Embarcadero traffic appeared just as oblivious. Fate was kind towards the unwitting participants that night.

5 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 6, 2017 at 12:14 pm

A general comment on utilities since I had their guys out to check whether a big puddle that's always in front of the fire hydrant /storm drain across the street caused my bill to shoot up last month when we're using much less water.

Utilities guys were great. We talked about how confusing the bill was, the obviously dry landscaping, why my bill should have shot up by $55, etc.

We reviewed the usage and billing info on my bill and all the confusing surcharges, fees etc. and learned:

1) The $25 monthly drought surcharge is still being charged even thought the cancellation was announced months ago.

2) We discussed the timing of the surcharge cancellation announcement and the rate increase announcement. The utilities guy said effectively we had to make up the surcharge difference PLUS people are conserving TOO much water so we HAD to make up the difference for that too!

3) I called to get credit for the several months of drought surcharges and was told nope, sorry. Maybe we'll remove it next month.

Maybe the city can stop preaching "conservation" and instead do something useful like distribute industrial-strength toilet bowl cleaners for all the stained toilets around town. So much for conservation.

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

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

After 39 years of cakes and pastries, Palo Alto institution Prolific Oven to close
By Elena Kadvany | 55 comments | 16,785 views

Local Transit to the Rescue?
By Sherry Listgarten | 7 comments | 1,355 views

The Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) Process Explained
By Steve Levy | 5 comments | 1,281 views

Do something about assault weapons, now!
By Diana Diamond | 37 comments | 1,097 views

"You Gotta Have Balls [to do counseling] . . .
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 947 views


Register now!

‚ÄčOn Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

More Info