Power outage in Palo Alto — third in three weeks

Power outages in Palo Alto as of 9:30 p.m. on April 13, 2021.

By the Daily Post staff

3 p.m. Wednesday — Last night’s outage was caused by a failed underground cable, according to Catherine Elvert, spokeswoman for Palo Alto Utilities.

About 2,000 customers lost power in the Old Palo Alto, South Middlefield and Ventura areas. Other parts of town, including downtown, had outages in places. The outage map last night indicated that 2,940 customers had no power. Power was restored to all customers by 11:45 p.m.

She said there is no connection between last night’s outage and the other two in the past three weeks.

“The city of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU) maintains an operation and maintenance schedule for infrastructure and equipment upgrades based on a number of factors, including age of the equipment, type of materials, underground versus aboveground lines, and ‘end of life’ expectancy,” Elvert said in an email to the Post. “CPAU along with other utilities use industry standards, best practices, and experiences to predict the useful life of utilities infrastructure. We strive to get ahead of any anticipated equipment failures by maintaining a progressive infrastructure replacement program and schedule.

“This outage was not predicted, but operational staff responded as quickly as possible to troubleshoot the issue, repair, and restore service to customers,” Elvert said.

1 a.m. Wednesday — Power has been restored to everyone who lost electricity earlier in the night, according to the city’s power outage map. There’s still no word on the cause.

Among those hit by the outage was the Daily Post at 385 Forest Ave., shutting down the newsroom and production departments of the newspaper. The power returned at 10:45 p.m., allowing the paper’s employees to scramble to make up the lost time just before deadline. Wednesday’s edition was printed about 20 minutes late.

9:37 p.m. Tuesday — Roughly 3,000 electric customers in Palo Alto lost their power tonight (April 13). The cause of the outage is unknown.

The outage stretched from the Mountain View line to downtown. But downtown wasn’t completely blacked out. In some blocks, only one business would have power while others were dark.

The city’s last outage was nine days ago when a blown transformer knocked out power to Crescent Park neighborhood. And on March 27, more than 7,000 customers lost power after a problem at the Park Boulevard substation.


  1. It used to be that Palo Alto’s utilities were more reliable than PG&E. Sad to see how things have declined in the past few years.

    • Live in Palo Alto about about 5 blocks from City Hall.. We are abandoning all our electric clocks because it’s to difficult to keep them running accurately….Batteries, springs and pendulums are the answer.
      Very concerned about running freezers on batteries and springs.

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