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PG&E on the hunt for outage cause

800 residents have been victims of blackouts that have lasted 16 hours
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Plagued by a series of power outages in Rocklin, Pacific Gas and Electric formed a new task force to tackle the issue. One of the outages on July 7 cut power to Steve Martin’s home off Lonetree Boulevard in West Rocklin. He said the annoying outage lasted for hours in the hottest part of the day. “I just said, ‘Don’t open the freezer. Leave it closed,’” Martin told his kids. “We went to Roseville and got in my buddy’s pool.” His neighbor had just filled her fridge with new groceries when the power went out and said she had to go back to the store to get a cooler with ice to save the perishables. Rocklin Mayor Scott Yuill said he had just sat down to dinner at Whitney Oaks Golf Club when one outage forced the club to close the restaurant. “It does affect businesses,” Yuill said. Yuill owns and operates a State Farm Insurance office on Sunset Boulevard and told city council last Tuesday it too lost power. Rocklin City Manager Carlos Urrutia reported to council that as many as 1,600 Rocklin residents have experienced their electricity cut, 800 for as long as 16 hours. City Councilwoman Kathy Lund said her neighbors are having trouble. “We were talking to friends over on Sweetwater Drive (near Argonaut Avenue) who said they’ve had the (power out) four or five times in the last month,” Lund said. “There was such a surge when it came back on, it blew all the telephones. They had to buy new telephones.” PG&E spokesperson Brian Swanson said his company is trying to locate the trouble. All of the trouble is occurring on one circuit that lies between Midas and Argonaut avenues and Crest and Park drives. Over the past two weeks, power crews conducted underground inspections of the circuit, and in some cases used infrared technology to identify the hot spots. “We didn’t find any problems,” Swanson said. “But we also installed several fault indicators that will allow us to identify the area where the problem is.” PG&E is putting up as much as $300,000 to address the problem, which includes adding switches that could reroute power from damaged areas to quickly restore power. The power outages are not over. In order to install the switches, crews will have to temporarily cut power to some residents, Swanson said. That work is scheduled for the fall and worries Martin, who said he works from home and needs his equipment working. “I’d like to know the plan,” Martin said. “They should know how long it will take. Is the choice being without power for four hours or 24 hours straight?” Swanson apologizes to customers and said those affected will get a heads up. “We will identify and notify any customers who will be impacted well before we begin the work,” Swanson said. “We’re working hard to improve the reliability for customers in Rocklin.”