UPDATE: San Jose officials say 22,500 are in the dark after PG&E power outages
Deputy City Manager Kip Harkness and Mayor Sam Liccardo discussed the latest PG&E power outages expected this weekend. Photo by Katie Lauer.

San Jose officials confirmed Sunday morning that 7,500 customer accounts in San Jose, including parts of Santa Teresa, Alum Rock, Berryessa, Evergreen and Almaden, continue to be affected by PG&E’s latest power shutoff.

That means about 22,500 people across the city are left in the dark this weekend — and could stay that way until tomorrow.

Just weeks after PG&E shut off power across several neighborhoods in San Jose, city officials confirmed Saturday in a news conference that residents should brace themselves for another round of power outages that is expected to run for at least 48 hours through Monday.

The power shutdown will affect the eastern foothills and southern parts of the city – neighborhoods adjacent to the city’s wildlife corridor, predisposed to exceptionally strong winds and dry brush.

City officials and PG&E staff have contacted 300 customers who are on medical devices to provide assistance.

Traffic signals are out at the following San Jose intersections:
• Monterey Rd. and Live Oak Ave.
• Almaden Expressway and O’Grady Dr.
• Almaden Expressway and Harry Rd.
• Almaden Expressway and Rajkovich Way
• Via Valiente and Bret Harte Dr.

In the latest round of outages, more than 850,000 customers across 36 counties in California will be affected, where at least 27,093 customers in Santa Clara County will be affected.

“PG&E has been more forthcoming with data this time,” said Kip Harkness, San Jose’s deputy city manager. “We’re able to have a higher degree of information on what is going to happen when.”

Harkness said the city has focused especially on customers who are medically dependent and situated in vulnerable neighborhoods. He urged residents to be “compassion in action” when helping families and neighbors.

While city staff will be working around the clock to deal with these latest outages, Mayor Sam Liccardo said his administration will continue conversations about how to avoid these issues with PG&E service moving forward.

“Obviously, this can’t be the new normal,” Liccardo said. “We need to find better solutions.”

Following residents’ frustration over this month’s earlier set of blackouts – originally thought to last up to 7 days – Liccardo introduced a proposal to the city’s Rules and Open Government Committee last week offering local and statewide solutions, including exploring the option of transitioning to a customer-owned utility and investing in “microgrids” to build energy grid resiliency and protect residents in the wake of a future outage. As the blackouts become more frequent, Liccardo hopes to decrease reliance on PG&E for the city’s power supply during California’s deadly wildfire season.

In the short term, the mayor wants to work with PG&E to develop better communication ahead of future blackouts through the open sharing of data to help local communities better prepare. Down the road, Liccardo said he’s interested in backing out of PG&E, and creating microgrids – hybrid off-grid solar systems with backup utility power – in specific locations throughout the city by installing much-needed infrastructure in areas requiring high levels of redevelopment and investment.

“The limitations of California’s investor-owned-utility model became all too apparent to more than 60,000 San Joseans in early October, when we experienced the first of likely many Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events,” wrote Liccardo in his memo. “Fortunately, our first experience had a short duration, avoiding the more serious threats to public safety and public health that come with extended blackouts. We may not be so fortunate next time.”

Liccardo expressed disapproval of the power utility’s former business practices ahead of the initial wave of outages, calling on city officials to consider these options as he made clear PG&E is not acting in San Jose residents’ “best interest.”

“We simply cannot rely upon PG&E to act in our residents’ best interests,” he added. “The company announced $11 million in bonuses in July, apparently based upon a prior-year’s performance that resulted in the company’s second bankruptcy filing in the last two decades, and the accumulation of $30 billion in wildfire-related liabilities arising from their negligence. It’s time to explore a San Jose without PG&E. It’s time to move on, and to take bolder action to protect our residents.”

Much like last time, city officials on Saturday advised residents to stay safe, power up all electronic devices, stay close to home, avoid driving and fill cars up with gas ahead of the outage as many gas stations will not be operating. Traffic will be heavily congested in the impacted areas, warned Harkness, as he told residents to travel only when necessary and be especially aware of pedestrians and bikers in dark conditions.

Four community resource centers will be open starting Sunday Oct. 27 until Monday Oct. 28, from noon to 7:00 p.m. The centers will provide access to safety and fire hazard information, water, light snacks, charging stations and air conditioning at each of these locations. There will not be access to shelter or medical services onsite.

Resources

  • The Berryessa Community Center is located at 3050 Berryessa Road, for more information call 408-251-6392.
  • The Camden Community Center is located at 3369 Union Ave, for more information call 408-559-8553.
  • The Evergreen Community Center is located at 4860 San Felipe Road, for more information call 408-270-2220.
  • The Southside Community Center is located at 5585 Cottle Rd., for more information call 408- 629-3336.

For more tips on how to prepare for and stay safe during the power outage, visit the city’s website. For more information about PG&E’s notifications and how to update your contact information, visit PG&E’s website or call PG&E at 1-866-743-6589.

To find out if your neighborhood will be affected by the power outage, check the city’s map here.

Contact Nadia Lopez at nadia@sanjosespotlight.com or follow @n_llopez on Twitter. Contact Katie Lauer at klauer77@gmail.com or follow @_katielauer on Twitter.

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