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Massive power outage in California looks like human error

“Boom boom… out go the lights” a song from years past by Pat Travers is the first thing that popped in my head.

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KTLA) — Electricity has been restored to hundreds of thousands of the estimated 5 million customers hit by a major power outage that stretched from Orange County to Arizona, officials said early Friday, adding that the entire incident was caused by one person’s mistake.

Orange County Sheriff’s officials said all power has been restored to affected customers as of 3:30 a.m. Friday.

San Diego Gas and Electric officials said at 4:30 a.m. that they believed they had all customers back in service. Anyone still without power was asked to call 1(800) 411-7343      .

A SDG&E spokesman said that the outage started Thursday with a problem on a transmission line in Arizona.

According to Cal-ISO “a 500k high-voltage line from AZ to CA tripped out of service.”

APS, Arizona’s largest electric utility said the line was tripped near Yuma, Ariz., at 3:30 p.m. Thursday during maintenance work.

“The outage appears to be related to a procedure an APS employee was carrying out in the North Gila substation, which is located northeast of Yuma,” an APS press release said. “Operating and protection protocols typically would have isolated the resulting outage to the Yuma area. The reason that did not occur in this case will be the focal point of the investigation into the event, which already is under way.”

That caused a sequence of events that shut down both generators at San Onofre Nuclear Power Station.

Gil Alexander, a spokesman for Southern California Edison, said the power outage did not cause any safety issues. Alexander said a fluctuation in power caused the reactors to shut down at 3:38 p.m. but that the overall plant continues to have power.

He said the system worked as it was supposed to during a loss of power.

The other two main power supplies to the region, a transmission line from the north and another from the east, were also down, the spokesman said.

SDG&E officials said they did not know why the power went down, but there was no indication of terrorism.

The power outage stretched east from San Diego to Yuma, Ariz. and as far north as San Clemente.

Mexican television reported that power was out in Baja California, as far south as Ensenada and east into Yuma, Arizona.

In San Diego, the outage was reportedly affecting 1.4 million SDGE customers from Chula Vista to Oceanside, and as far east as Alpine.

There were reports of people trapped in elevators in downtown San Diego.

All outbound flights were canceled at Lindbergh Field, but inbound planes were being allowed to land, airport officials said.

The FAA said that regional air traffic controllers were working on backup generators.

Officials in San Diego said 13 police stations were without power, but they were taking emergency calls by using generators.

San Diego County officials said all schools would be closed Friday with plans to re-open Monday.

CAL FIRE and Riverside County Firefighters relocated 66 patients from Desert Springs Health Care Facility to other nearby hospitals, officials said. The facility’s back-up generator failed, which caused the air conditioning to fail.



  1. It was definitely not fun! Complete gridlock on all the freeways and inside roads. For those who were not prepared, need to get prepared!

    I thinking saying that it is human error on one person is a little premature. It seems dumb to think just one person could have tripped over the power cord (ha ha). Let’s see what they say in the next few weeks before coming to conclusions.

  2. Power in Mexicali, BC which is around 2 hours away from Yuma, AZ came back in sections. The section my house was in was probably one of the last ones to get power. It came back at 1:30AM!! No fear however, because we are sure to get charged EXTRA when the light bill comes around. I doubt it was “human error”; thinking that ONE mistake can bring the power down on entire STATES makes me very worried as to how exactly their system works.

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