Power rest­ored in San Francisco after sweeping outage


PG&E restored electricity service just after 5 p.m. to all San Francisco customers affected by a sprawling power outage that began Friday morning when a power substation caught fire.

Barry Anderson, a spokesperson for PG&E, said at an afternoon press conference, that there was a “catastrophic failure” of a circuit breaker at the power substation located near Larkin and Eddy streets. Anderson said insulation around the breaker burned, which caused the fire and the subsequent power outage.

San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the fire.

The citywide power outage occurred around 9:19 a.m. About 88,000 customers were without power from residents in the Richmond District to businesses and office buildings in the Financial District.

BART was also affected by the power outage. The BART Montgomery Station lost power and trains were not stopping at the station. San Francisco Muni trains also did not stop at the station.

It was not until around 11:30 a.m. that BART crews hooked up a power generator that allowed BART and Muni officials to reopen the station and allowing for trains to stop at the station again.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency did shutdown cable car service for most of the day. Cable car service resumed around 5 p.m.

Ed Reiskin, director of transportation, said the cable cars need the electric signal system in order to operate safely.

At the start of the power outage, 300 traffic lights went out in The City, said Reiskin. The transit agency deployed more than 100 parking control officers to direct traffic.

Many of Muni’s electric trolley buses were also affected by the power outage, because the buses run on overhead wires.

Francis Zamora, spokesperson for the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management, said The City immediately activated its emergency operations center when PG&E notified city officials of the citywide power outage.

Zamora said the activation of the center allowed for city departments to coordinate the response together by tracking schools, public transit, hospitals and public safety facilities. City officials were also working with PG&E inside the center.

Two hospitals, California Pacific Medical Center on Buchanan Street and Saint Francis Memorial Hospital, did have to run power generators during the power outage and were not accepting new emergencies, said Zamora.

Anderson said the Larkin Street power substation is part of PG&E’s modernization plan to replace old equipment inside  power stations:

“We’ve identified it as substation that needed to be modernized. Unfortunately, we had this breaker failed. It was from old equipment.”

PG&E plans to work on upgrades to the Larkin Street power substation in the second quarter of 2018, said Anderson.

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. A San Francisco native, he has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Send tips to or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

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