Power outage in downtown and north Berkeley

The power outage knocked out traffic lights downtown. Photo: Ryan Tate

An electrical power outage knocked out much of downtown Berkeley from about 11:15 a.m. this morning. Berkeleyside has contacted PG&E for more information.

Readers and tweeters report that the outage affected an area from Center Street to Shattuck and from Kittredge to at least Center. Berkeleyside is also getting reports of widespread outages in north Berkeley. BART has notified riders that its trains are not stopping at either North Berkeley or Downtown Berkeley stations because of the outage.

No major difficulties have yet been reported. But Aaron Loeb tweeted that the evacuation the the Downtown Y was “pandemonium”. And Ariel Herschcopf tweeted that the outage meant she couldn’t get out of a parking garage.

Some people retain a sense of humor: Suzanne Yada at the Center for Investigative Reporting on Center Street tweeted that she might raid the neighboring Ben & Jerry’s ice cream store before the stock all melted.

Update 11:46 a.m. PG&E outage map reports seven outages in Berkeley affecting more than 5,000 customers (its scale doesn’t go higher than 5,000+). There is no estimated time of restoration yet.

Update 11:59 a.m. A PG&E spokesperson said that the outage affects 27,000 customers in Berkeley. The cause of the outage is not yet know.

Update 2 p.m. Most of Betkeley seems to be restored. PG&E report “under 3,000” customers remain affected, but that number has not been updated in 30 minutes.

Update 4 p.m. By 4 p.m. both Berkeley BART stations were reported to be open again.

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  • There didn’t seem to be lights on on Bancroft adjacent to UC Berkeley campus either. And when I passed Downtown Berkeley BART the officer there said it extended all the way down to Ashby. The campus seems to be fine.

  • Bryan Garcia

    I work near Bancroft and Telegraph and just got home from work early due to the outage. I walked down Telegraph on my way home and most of Southside seemed to be without power, up to about Blake street maybe, including traffic lights. Here at home near Derby and Shattuck I have power.

    Idiot drivers seem to think that if they see no traffic light, it means “go.” It’s supposed to be a four-way stop.

    I think the UC campus has their own power, separate from the rest of the city, but don’t quote me on that.

  • Eric Panzer

    I can report that Russell and Telegraph has power, so it clearly doesn’t extend all the way to Ashby.

  • Alina

    Thanks for the news and the updates. Glad to know Berkeleyside has power :)

  • Lights were out at least as far north as Hearst and Shattuck; possibly Rose as well, it was hard to tell from the parallel street I was riding on. Homes around Berryman and MLK have power, though.

  • North Berkeley BART station is chained off, but you can hear the BART trains running through the tunnel. No notes or notices or anything.

    Kids at Jefferson school were having some extra recess :)

    Stoplights on Sacramento & University are out. Drivers on Sacramento were mostly civil.

  • Jeff L
  • epine

    Lights out on Virginia – just restored five minutes ago (12.30)

  • jane

    Power is back at University and California.

  • Lights still out at Sacramento & Rose (Near Jefferson School & N. Berkeley BART).

    Several helicopters flying overhead.

  • Ms Petit

    Power just restored around Gourmet Ghetto (thank you Crepevine for still serving lunch!)

    Are the helicopters overhead related at all?

  • 12:41PM. Power on near Sacramento & Rose.

  • Michael

    Power is out at Ashby and College, but a lot of Elmwood shops and restaurants seem to be open. I walked up from Colby and Woolsey where everything was fine so I was
    a bit surprised.

  • Andrea

    Thanks Berkeleyside! You were the first place I checked when the power went off. The news and frequent updates are much appreciated! You have your finger on the pulse of all things Berkeley.

  • Juliette

    Albany Library – on

    Westbrae neighborhood (south of Gilman) – off (but back on now at 1:00)

  • anh

    Power back at La Vals.

  • For those of us trying to get somewhere, BART is back in service, with delays.

  • Michael

    Back on at Ashby and College.

  • Power is back at Jupiter and Walgreens on Shattuck and at Hotel Shattuck, but Center firstblock west if campus was still out as of three minutes ago.

  • Berkeley Y has reopened.

  • Yuko

    Power was out at Monterey Market, too. It was back on around 1:00.

  • Mike Friedrich

    Power back on south of UC at 1:50

  • Terry

    Thanks Berkeleyside for reporting the outage. I too checked your website first!
    I have been living in Berkeley only a few months but already there have been two power outages lasting at least one hour. (Prior to this I was on the Peninsula and in 9 years recall perhaps one or two outages at most). Power going out in any case exposes how reliant we currently are on nuclear plants to power our homes/businesses and oil so our cars can motor along. Instead of embarking on expensive military expeditions, why not use the monies and manpower to install backup generators (solar- and other ecoresource- powered) so that households and businesses are not left in the ‘dark’… A college prof once suggested those kinds of civil ‘good works’ as a way of employing the military at home and abroad. (Idealistic perhaps, since so much of military training monies are spent on the use of expensive technology, and arms exports is a lucrative business). But with failing nuclear reactors in Japan, this second power outage in a few months served as a reminder that those kinds of ideas are not farfetched…

  • Claudia

    The power outage seemed to originate at the substation on McGee and Hearst Sts. The street was blocked off and there seemed to be a management presenceon site. There was at least one tv camera. PG&E was working on McGee St. Well into the night.

    Can we follow up on this? What caused this? Was there danger to the surrounding neighbors or homes — the street was blocked off, after all. What is the status of this substation? Is it up to date or are is there cause for concern?

  • jo ann

    I echo Claudia — can Berkeleyside follow up with PG&E and get the source of this outage? They have a PR department, should be pretty easy. I believe we should get us much info as possible from PG&E what with the Smartmeter research still TBD and the explosion in San Bruno. What happened!

  • Jo Ann and Claudia: we had a call into PG&E from late yesterday to try to find out the cause. I just spoke to a spokesperson and they are still investigating. There is some suspicion that there was a problem with an underground cable, but that’s tentative.

    We’ll keep on the story until we get a firm answer from PG&E.