News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


Subject :

City of Palo Alto Electric Outage on September 7, 2010
Contact : Russ Kamiyama, Manager, Electric Operations, Utilities    650-496-6912
Joyce Kinnear, Manager, Utility Marketing Services, Utilities    650-29-2652
Palo Alto, CA – Palo Alto experienced an electric outage during the evening dinner rush on Tuesday, September 7, 2010. The outage began at 4:17 p.m., and all customers had power restored by 7:35 p.m. The area impacted was in downtown, in the area roughly bordered by Alma from Everett to Forest, Lytton from Alma to Kipling, and University from Alma to Florence.  A total of 1,290 customers were affected for at least part of the outage.

The outage was initially caused by a problem on an overhead electric line from the substation on Quarry Road to the downtown area around University Avenue. Crews were called in to investigate the problem immediately and to restore service as quickly as possible. About 30% of the power serving the area is delivered by the overhead system and 70% is provided below ground.  Finding the cause of any outage by visually checking underground lines is not possible, so utility crews had to run a series of tests to try to locate and repair the problem. 

"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. 

Power came on to businesses as the system was tested section by section. At 7:35 p.m., power was restored to all customers. The following day, crews from both the City's Public Works and Utilities Departments completed a more detailed patrol of the overhead electric lines. On the 300 block of High, staff found a palm frond that appears to have caused the outage. The frond was trimmed to prevent future problems.

Currently, Electric Operations is upgrading the downtown system with Capital Improvement Projects 17, 24, and 45. The areas that will be impacted by this work are downtown: Alma from Palo Alto Road to Lytton Avenue and on Everett from Alma to Emerson, Alma to Ramona between Lytton and Forest, and Lytton to Paulson from Ramona to Florence. Projected completed date on this upgrade completion is the end of March 2011 for part of the work and August 2011 for the remainder. When all of the work is complete operations will have extended two new feeders into the downtown area, which should improve reliability.

For more information about utility capital improvement projects, visit the “Current Major Utility Projects” News Item in the “New Construction—Engineering and Operations” section of the City of Palo Alto Utilities Department website at