San Diego Survives the Great Blackout of 2011

(Mike Blake/Reuters)

Sept 9 (Reuters) – Power companies in Southern
California restored electricity to most customers by early
Friday after a massive blackout on Thursday left nearly 5
million people in parts of California, Arizona and Mexico in
the dark.

Although the Sept. 8 outage, apparently caused by human
error, was just a tenth the size of the 2003 blackout that left
about 50 million people without power in the eastern United
States and Canada, it will surely rank as one of the biggest
blackouts in recent history – certainly one of the biggest
caused by human error.

Sempra Energy’s (SRE.N) San Diego Gas & Electric power
company said it restored power to its 1.4 million customers at
3:25 a.m. Western time on Friday.

That was almost 12 hours after a major electric
transmission system outage in western Arizona and the loss of a
key connection with the 2,150-megawatt San Onofre nuclear power plant in California resulted in the most widespread power
outage in the company’s history, SDG&E said.

Blackouts also affected 3.5 million people in Baja
California, according to local officials.

San Onofre, which is operated by Edison International’s
(EIX.N) Southern California Edison, shut on Thursday and
remained out of service early Friday, according to the U.S.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“Restoring power in the aftermath of the loss of the entire
local grid serving San Diego and southern Orange counties was a monumental task,” David Geier, SDG&E vice president of electric operations, said in a release.

“The restoration process, however, has left our local power
grid very fragile and we are asking our customers to conserve
electricity throughout the day Friday,” Geier said.

SDG&E and the California ISO, which operates the power grid
for much of the state, said they would focus on maintaining and
ensuring the integrity of the local power system for the next
few days before determining the sequence of events that led to
the outage and establishing practices and procedures to ensure
that outages such as the Sept. 8 event are not repeated.

“There appears to be two failures here — one is human
failure and the other is a system failure. Both of those will
be addressed,” said Damon Gross, a spokesman for Pinnacle West Capital’s (PNW.N) Arizona utility Arizona Public Service.

5 Million people without power yesterday and into this morning, but by the power of Grayskull, San Diego is back on the grid!

Everybody in San Diego has their blackout story. You’d think the apocalypse went down by the way people are talking about it. We’re all such pansies, it’s comical…myself 100% included. It was chaos in the streets of San Diego. Nothing crazy…no riots, just idiots drinking a TON and cruising around the city with zero inhibitions. For me? It pissed me off. Just inconvenienced the hell outta me. Nothing major or bad happened to me or my family at all…just a gigantic hassle. My brother in law, a paramedic, shot me a text that said he got about 50 calls for elevator rescues… simultaneously. Now that’s rough…something to actually complain about. In reality, I’m just being pissy about my experience. Padres played, so I hear. I didn’t see a second of the Packers Saints game to open the season. Luckily, everyone on twitter was there to tell me how amazing it was. I saw multiple, “that was the game of the year” tweets. Effers. Speaking of twitter, SDGE is the big winner from yesterday. Just talked to a buddy that said they had about 2,000 followers when he started following them yesterday for updates. As I write this…they have over 17,000 followers.

My neighborhood turned into Lord of the Flies. I swear if that blackout would have lasted into tonight, everybody would have war paint on their faces and they’d be running around in loin cloths. Everybody just brought out the meat they had in their fridge, grabbed all the booze from the house, and went out to the pool to BBQ and party. This started a about 5pm as people got home from work and continued well into the night… I think I heard the last idiot leave at 11:30pm. I know that’s not a big deal to some of you, but my alarm goes off every morning at 4:00am, so I was ready to crack skulls listening to these drunk morons play charades around tea lights. I’m sure most of you lobsters don’t have kids yet, but I do… a 21-month old daughter. That was fun trying to put her to bed with no sound machine, no AC, no fan, no monitor…and windows open for the sweet sounds of the Rehab party going on at the pool. Lights came on at my place at 2:45am. Didn’t fall back asleep after that. Just over 3 hours of sleep…feelin’ like a champ.

It will be funny as today unfolds to listen to the dramatic stories… that probably aren’t all that dramatic at all. Good work though to San Diego for not rioting or looting (at least none that I’ve heard of) and keeping your cool. It was nice to get to know some neighbors, and actually look up at the stars for once. Final thought, if the rumors about this blackout happening because of an error made by some Arizona Public Service employee are true… take it easy on the guy. Assuming he’s not some sadistic terrorist, he just made a really dumb mistake that will probably get him fired, or at the very least, a whole lot of humiliation for the rest of his life. Be kind, lobsters, be kind.

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