ALAMEDA (CBS SF) – Straining under a spike in demand for electricity under sweltering temperatures, state power grid officials Friday night ordered utilities companies for the first time since the energy crisis in 2001 to begin rolling one-hour outages to thousands of customers.
Rolling blackouts were reported in Alameda and San Mateo as well as Marin and Sonoma counties by 8 p.m.
But by 9 p.m., Alameda Municipal Power tweeted that the energy crisis had passed — “We’ve been instructed by the California Independent System Operator that the grid has stabilized. All power has been restored in the west end and there will be no further outages tonight.”
State power grid officials lowered the energy demand surge from Stage 3 to Stage 2 moments later.
The city of Alameda had been among the first Bay Area communities to be impacted by the rolling blackouts. Alameda Power officials sent an outage alert to ratepayers around 7:30 p.m. Friday evening, saying the California Independent System Operator instructed the utility company to begin rolling blackouts.
“We have started the first blackout affecting 3,200 customers in the southwest end of Alameda. The blackout will last about an hour,” said the alert.
According to PG&E, as of about 7:30 p.m. Bay Area outages included an outage in San Rafael affecting 50,000 customers, an outage in San Mateo affecting 35,000 customers in addition to the outages in Alameda and Santa Rosa.
RELATED PG&E Outage Map
Local residents took to social media to voice their anger over the suddenness of the outages.
From Amy Stevenson: “You could have warned us. I live in a multi building complex@with elevators. Now AFD has to tie up resources rescuing those people.”
W Callow agreed posting: “So like… could we have been given warning???”
Rolling power outages… welp, time for candles and board games. pic.twitter.com/1myZuem9Hx
— Christina Britton (@cbrittonauthor) August 15, 2020
In Sonoma County, the sheriff’s office said 42,455 local residents were without power at the height of the outages.
“Please do not call the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office unless it’s an emergency,” the department asked. “We are fielding a high volume of calls because of the power outage.”
Police in Sausalito and San Rafael also issued warnings as the outages rolled through dozens of neighborhoods.
Earlier, the ISO issued a Stage 3 Power alert shortly after issuing a Stage 2 warning due to excessive heat and high energy demand, initiating rolling blackouts across the state.
“The California ISO is working closely with California utilities and neighboring power systems to manage strain on the grid and to restore the power grid to full capacity,” the operator said in a statement. “As portions of the grid are restored, local utilities will restore power in a coordinated fashion.”
Some 250,000 homes and businesses may be impacted by the power disruptions.