Equipment failure caused power outage to 2,200 Saturday

More than 2,200 PG&E customers in Morgan Hill were without power Saturday afternoon, when outside temperatures reached the century mark.

A PG&E spokeswoman said the cause of the outage was equipment failure related to a circuit breaker. But the circuit on which the outage occurred was recently replaced by PG&E, according to a report by the utility company to the city council who requested more information about what seemed to be a spike in such outages last summer.

Saturday’s outage started about 5 p.m., and continued until about 7:27 p.m., according to PG&E spokeswoman Monica Tell. Affected were 2,235 customers.

Some of those without power during the outage were businesses on the south end of town, including the shopping center that houses Morgan Hill Bowl and CineLux movie theaters. Businesses downtown, and traffic lights at intersections along Monterey Road, were without power as well.

Morgan Hill suffered three similar PG&E outages last summer, each of which affected more customers than Saturday’s. The largest of those, on July 5, affected more than 7,000 customers – most of whom were without power for more than three hours, and some without electricity for more than 13 hours.

The cause of all three of those outages was “underground cable splice failures,” according to a report presented to the city council earlier this year by PG&E government relations representative Karla Rodriguez Lomax.

That report was requested by city staff and the council in January, who wanted reassurance that such events would not become commonplace in Morgan Hill.

PG&E staff responded to the city by saying they have spent more than $2.7 million on grid maintenance and reliability work in the previous 18 months in Morgan Hill. The utility also reported it planned to improve or upgrade some of its circuits in Morgan Hill, and enhance system reliability with automated underground equipment.

One of PG&E’s circuits – known as the “2110 circuit” – was among those upgraded in the last two years. It’s also the circuit on which Saturday’s failure happened, Tell said.

PG&E sent out a “weather advisory” to customers Friday, warning them of the scorching temperatures approaching for the weekend, particularly in Central Valley locations. The advisory noted that such warm weather can “overload electrical equipment, causing power outages.”

The utility company urged customers to stay cool by drinking lots of water, wearing lightweight clothing and wearing sunscreen.

It also gave people advice on how to keep their energy bills down and avoid overloading the system during the hot spell. This advice includes keeping unnecessary lights turned off, avoiding the use of appliances during the hottest part of the day and using the microwave instead of the oven to heat food.

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