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Palo Alto power outage affecting about 2,500 customers

Original post made on Jan 12, 2020

Power has gone out in the Barron Park area of Palo Alto, impacting about 2,500 customers, according to a tweet from City of Palo Alto Utilities.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, January 12, 2020, 1:27 PM

Comments (20)

14 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Ventura
on Jan 12, 2020 at 2:14 pm

Glad we still have a gas fireplace, water heater, and stove!


17 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Ventura
on Jan 12, 2020 at 2:17 pm

I’m concerned that simple balloon, last time it was a bird, can take out the grid in the entire southern half of the city.

What would happen in a minor earthquake, storm, or wind event?

Anyone else feel like this is pretty important?


9 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2020 at 3:09 pm

It is less than a month ago since we had a widespread power outage in Palo Alto. That one was started by a tree branch hitting a power line, on an afternoon when it wasn't windy and wasn't raining. Today there is this one with the excuse being a mylar balloon.

Whether it is tree branches, mylar balloons, geese, seagulls, squirrels, or whatever, our power is unreliable at best.

My question is actually whether anyone has data on how many power outages we get each year, how long power is out, what the cause is, and how much it costs to repair them? Of course, the added question would be to how much the cost to residents, businesses, etc. are because of lost business, lost food and lost wages? I would really like to know the former, because I doubt if the City and Utilities care about the second.

Please let us know how many outages in each of the last 5 years or 10 years?

Please let us know what is being done to prevent or at least reduce the number of power outages?


14 people like this
Posted by Independent
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Jan 12, 2020 at 3:13 pm

Isnt it great the city is forcing electric on new homes? Now people won't have a damn thing when the power goes out.


22 people like this
Posted by Anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 12, 2020 at 3:42 pm

Isn't it time to bury the electric lines underground?


7 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 12, 2020 at 3:47 pm

RE the push toward all electric, expect our legal fees to skyrocket at PA restaurant owners join all the other restaurant owner and restaurant associations suing to stop this ridiculous move.


12 people like this
Posted by CindyG
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 12, 2020 at 4:00 pm

I agree with many of the comments above - without gas stove we would not have been able to cook during the outage. And, this is the fifth outage since last summer (we had 2 during that really hot day when the transformer near Walgreens blew, one for the seagull, one for the tree, and now one for the balloon). This wouldn't happen if the power was underground. Last summer we are sure that the subsequent power surges that went with this fried the motherboards on our hot water heater, one of our computers, and the refrigerator. Yet these are expenses we have to pay (not cheap!) and don't get to submit the bills to PA Utilities. I think this is extremely important to address, more so than "beautifying" all of our roads and slowing down all the traffic.


18 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 12, 2020 at 4:06 pm

CPAU just blamed the outage on another mylar balloon. So about that undergrounding.....


21 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 12, 2020 at 4:22 pm

Mylar balloons are an environmental menace ... and for what ... a moment's childish entertainment?
They use us valuable helium that is irreplaceable, as well as take up space in landfills, and kill wildlife.
How come mylar balloons have not been banned?


18 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 12, 2020 at 4:39 pm

Why are mylar balloons legal? Seems like more than half of the power failures in this city are caused by mylar balloons. Shame on stores that are still selling them and customers that are still buying them.


5 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 12, 2020 at 4:54 pm

Glad my furniture is wood and not plastic. May need to chop it up and burn it someday.


4 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 13, 2020 at 12:36 am

On article's " 'most likely' a mylar balloon":

I live a few houses from the incident and one of my neighbors observed it. He saw a cluster of mylar balloons from a child's birthday party float into the wires. He telephoned the Public Works Department and while on the phone when they shorted the line. He said that they caught fire and most fell to the ground -- trivially extinguished.

It only popped the fuse. The first two hours of the outage were the crew being called in and then getting the bucket truck to the site. The need for safety measures means resetting the fuze is more complicated that resetting a circuit breaker at your home.


6 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 13, 2020 at 4:47 am

^ Can't blame them being really extra careful after the November 16 fatality.


Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 13, 2020 at 1:16 pm

Please: if you have tree branches, trunks, garden foliage on tour property contacting wires, please clear them.


4 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 13, 2020 at 2:53 pm

> "Can't blame them being really extra careful after the November 16 fatality."

They weren't being "really extra careful": From what I could tell, they were being normally careful. My intended point was work on these lines requires more time than most people would understand. Safety requires proceeding in small steps with careful monitoring, double-checks,... I got details several years ago when an outage was caused by a car hitting a pole near my house and I talked to the crew while they were awaiting completion of tasks elsewhere.


13 people like this
Posted by Family Friendly
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 13, 2020 at 4:17 pm

I second those above calling for our power lines to be buried.

We shouldn't have to suffer power outages every time there's a birthday party or a windstorm. In addition, burying them would reduce fire hazards and beautify our neighborhoods.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2020 at 4:55 pm

Please do not clear foliage around wires by yourself. Some of these lines are high voltage. They are very dangerous. They need to be cleared by a professional who knows what they are doing. When we were having some tree work done, we had to make sure that we used someone with high voltage experience and special insurance for working near them. It is not a DIY task. A few weeks ago there was a fatal injury to a Utilities worker on the power lines. Please don't touch them.

Yes, we do need our powerlines underground.


3 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2020 at 9:05 am

Given the increased fire risk we have today, I think it is time to revitalize the undergrounding effort. Let's get that rolling at a defined pace with a defined completion date.

I also think it is time to ban those pesky conductive balloons. I don't understand why they are still legal. Maybe lawsuits suing the seller and manufacturer would put them out of business.


6 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 15, 2020 at 4:38 pm

Just curious ... burying power lines sounds great. It would be so great to not have to see power lines on our skyline and to have them protected underground to avoid these outages.

Is there no problem with a high water table or flooding? What are the drawbacks to burying power lines, and what can go wrong?


2 people like this
Posted by Val
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 15, 2020 at 6:21 pm

What are the drawbacks to burying power lines?

Money

One has to wonder what the cost of all these outages are...


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