Blackout Watch

System Power Outages

by Troy Linkugel, USA

Analysis of system power outages can help us learn and avoid similar events in the future. If you have information on any blackouts, please e-mail to: editor@pacw.org         

Berkeley, CA, USA:  An estimated 45,000 people in Berkeley and the surrounding East Bay area experienced a total blackout after a squirrel found its way into a substation in El Cerrito. PG&E spokesman said an animal had impacted the equipment and triggered a massive power failure at 8:03p.m. Reports on social media indicate residents tried to make the best of it, with many out walking or playing music on their porches. Electricity was restored around 10:30p.m.

Yakima, WA, USA:   A blackout hit more than 27,000 customers in Yakima just after 4:30p.m. on Monday. Pacific Power said that while transferring power from one substation to another a piece of equipment malfunctioned, possibly a transformer fuse. They also said the equipment needed updating and did not break down due to the unusally extreme heat that the area has been experiencing. Power was restored in around two and a half hours.

Los Angeles, CA, USA:  Roughly 20,000 customers in the Silver Lake neighborhood saw their lights go out in the early evening. The cut was caused by an explosion in an underground power substation. DWP was not sure of the cause, saying that "these can blow up for any multitude of reasons". The explosion came shortly after officials asked residents statewide to reduce their energy consumption between 2p.m. and 9p.m. due to a wave of triple-digit temperatures.

Karachi, Pakistan:   The tripping of a 220 kV transmission line started a chain reaction that led to large parts of Sindh and Balochistan falling into darkness. A broken conductor on the line from Bin Qasim caused the trip and the 560 MW power plant had to be shut down for nearly seven hours as repairs were made. When officials began bringing the system back online, it caused a cascading effect in the system that lead to the tripping of the HubCo power plant, the 660 MW Jamshoro power plant and the 500 kV National Transmission and Distribution Company (NTDC) line from the national grid. For the past few weeks, the power infrastructure of Karachi has been under stress due to rising demand for power, forcing K-electric to operate at full load. They said that such a trip was unusual.

Long Beach, CA, USA:  A major outage in Long Beach, California left thousands without electricity. According to officials, the blackout was caused by a vault explosion at an Underground Power Substation. It occured at about 4:15p.m. and initially affected only 7,500 homes and businesses. Within a half hour the outage had spread to more than 30,000 customers in the densely populated area.  The initial explosion prompted Southern California Edison to shut down three power substations so workers could make the needed repairs. Only two weeks earlier, a vault fire had left roughly 6,000 nearby customers without electricity for more than three days.

Time and location of the System & Power Disturbances in 2015

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