PG&E workers at substation fire Copyright Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
PG&E workers stand outside of a substation where a fire occured.

Substation Failure Causes Massive Power Outage in San Francisco

A massive power outage hit San Francisco last week on Friday, closing shops and snarling traffic in the city's technology and finance center. About 90,000 were without power, forcing the closure of businesses, a BART station and a federal courthouse.

BART’s Montgomery Station was closed due to the outage, and trains were running through the station without stopping. Cable cars were also affected and shuttles were put in place to provide service, according to the Municipal Transportation Agency.

The blackout started just after 9 a.m. and power was finally restored to all customers by 6 p.m. local time. According to PG&E, the outage was caused by equipment failure at the Larkin Substation. Initial information suggests a circuit breaker failed, igniting insulation, causing a fire at the substation. 

The substation responsible for the outage is undergoing already planned extensive upgrades over the next year. The $100 million project is scheduled to be completed by early 2018. PG&E will replace and upgrade the existing infrastructure to enhance electric reliability and increase capacity to meet future power needs.

PG&E released a statement saying that it is grateful to the City of San Francisco, San Francisco Fire Department, San Francisco Police Department, San Francisco Department of Emergency Management and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency for their cooperation during this incident and to its customers for their patience as it worked to make repairs and restore power.

"I'd like to extend our apologies to this community and our customers. We know it was very frustrating to have a power outage of this magnitude. There was a significant equipment failure at our substation, and we worked safely and as quickly as possible to restore power to this great city," said Barry Anderson, PG&E vice president of Electric Distribution.

The equipment failure led to a brief fire at the substation located at Larkin and Eddy Streets. PG&E crews, working with the San Francisco Fire Department, responded quickly to the scene and safely extinguished the fire. There were no injuries to the public or PG&E employees.

PG&E will conduct a thorough investigation to determine the factors that led to the equipment failure and subsequent power outage.

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