Viridian Note 00169: Multimedia Gulch Brownouts

Bruce Sterling []

Key concepts: record heat, electrical outages, San
Francisco, Silicon Valley

Attention Conservation Notice: Emergency over for the time being, and most people probably didn't notice it anyway.

Links: Useful "Electrical Outage Terms" from Pacific Gas and Electric: US Severe Weather Map:

After watching those transformers melt on the poles, why not enjoy more outdoor summer fun with explosive feats of combustion? A barbecue pit with liquid oxygen! Bored demolition experts blow up the desert! Add to global heat wave with weird, wacky art cars!

Source: Business Wire, June 15, 02000

"PG&E Crews Continue Working to Restore Heat-Related Outages in the Bay Area

"SAN FRANCISCO == (BUSINESS WIRE)== June 15, 2000 via NewsEdge Corporation

    "After three days of unprecedented temperatures in Northern and Central California, Pacific Gas and Electric Company crews continue to restore heat-related outages in the greater Bay Area.

    "The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) did not require the company to repeat yesterday's rotating outages today. Rotating outages were in effect only from 1:15 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 14. There were, however, a wide range of small outages throughout the service territory caused by overloaded equipment on the electric system. (...)

    "There were hundreds of outages that impacted small pockets of customers each time, which required hundreds of pieces of equipment to be repaired or replaced by work crews. In fact, approximately 500 transformers have been replaced. (...) Most outages were the result of transformers on power poles overheating from the extreme heat, coupled with the increased demand for electricity.

    "'Our crews have worked all day in the 100 degree-plus temperatures to repair equipment impacted by the heat, and we will continue to work hard until every customer is restored,' said Gordon R. Smith, president and CEO of Pacific Gas and Electric Company. 'We appreciate everyone's patience as we continue to repair the damage caused by this unprecedented heat wave.'

    "In order to restore customers' power as quickly as possible, Pacific Gas and Electric Company has moved additional crews to the San Jose area, which has experienced continued high temperatures and the bulk of today's outages.

"For more information about Pacific Gas and Electric Company, please visit our web site,

"CONTACT: PG&E News Department 415/973-5930"

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