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How the heck does San Francisco lose power?!

All that high tech stuff needs power, right? So you'd think they'd make sure they had it, right? CBS Local:

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Heavy wind and rain from Thursday’s massive storm have left much of San Francisco without power for most of the day, with 276,000 PG&E customers system wide losing power since the storm started, and 110,000 still without power.

San Francisco was hardest hit, with 70,000 customers across a vast swath of the city including downtown high rises in the dark beginning early Thursday morning through mid-morning. ...

The outage forced the shutdown of the Bay Area Rapid Transit Montgomery Station for a time Thursday morning. A transformer blew out near high-rise hotels, including one out front of the Grand Hyatt Hotel. The Embarcadero Center was also shut down for a time after power went out there as well..

[PG&E spokesman Joe Molica] said they have been preparing for the storm for more than a week, but weren’t anticipating as many trees and wires coming down. “All summer we’ve been hearing from our vegetation department that a lot of trees have been stressed, so they were very susceptible to coming down,” he said. “That’s exactly what we saw today. A lot of wires coming down. We do want folks to be safe out there. If you see a downed or hanging low wire, please call us and stay away.”

I love the idea of a "Vegetation Department."

Speculating freely, if the trees were stressed, I wonder if that was because of the drought? If so, the outage is an example of an unexpected restult from a complex system.

NOTE Here's a blow-by-blow from Wolf Richter. Our systems are much more fragile than we think, aren't they? ZOMG no Internets!

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jo6pac's picture
Submitted by jo6pac on

Yes they do have a tree removal service and you can email them and a PG&E contractor comes out checks the trees and will remove them for free. In my case a contractor showed up a the door one day and asked if the could remove 4 palm trees and trim 6 others for free. I told him yes and I would contact my landlord about removing them all. My LL said if I didn't like then remove them all and I hate them. I called vendor back they came by later that day and marked 14 palms for removal. Then another vendor came by and started the removal process and it took 5 days to remove all 14 and clean up. It does open the house up to the road but within a year or so the oleanders will fill in close off the road once again.

I live about 75 miles southeast of SF in the central valley and we had no power problems.

Submitted by Dromaius on

Most of the large high-tec companies have super generators. Based on a city tour I did, back in the 80's, Microsoft had two 10 megawatt turbine generators for backup power. No doubt they have more today. The high-tec companies don't rely on the grid for power. If they did, they'd be fools.

But trees fall everywhere, even in high-tec land. We, here in Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing, Google-land lose power all the time.

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

The Southern Company actually has helicopters with long chain saws that swing from them to trim their easements. We live really close to an easement, so when the helicopters are trimming it, it both sounds and looks like they are right over the house!

They are kind of scary.