Updates on power outages in Menlo Park and Atherton

by Contributed Content on February 24, 2023

Majority of power restored to Menlo Park

City staff have been working through the power outages to maintain safe travel throughout the city, clear downed trees, open city facilities to residents without power, and provide accommodation to those in need.

Late yesterday PG&E coordinated with the California Highway Patrol and Caltrans to temporarily shut down U.S. Highway 101 and make repairs that reconnected lines across the freeway between Suburban Park and the substation near Kelly Park. This and other work by PG&E crews to clear some downed wires that were tangled in fallen trees successfully restored power to most of Menlo Park by late last night and this morning.

However, the City is very aware and closely monitoring several small pockets in neighborhoods that remain without power. These residents have now been without electricity for several days and we know how disruptive and frustrating this has been. City staff continue to press PG&E for more communication and accuracy about restoration times on behalf of our residents and want to make sure that a situation like this does not occur again.

You can track the latest progress on pending outages using PG&E’s Outage Center map online.

City crews will be on standby through the weekend to respond to any additional fallen trees or other needs that may come up. The National Weather Service is not forecasting any extreme weather other than unusually cool temperatures, but there will be some wind and rain showers through at least the middle of next week. Calls for service over the weekend will be handled through the afterhours phone line at 650-330-6300.

  • For power outages, check PGE’s Outage Center map online and call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000
  • For fallen trees, call Public Works at 650-330-6780 weekdays from 7:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. and at 650-330-6300 after hours.
    Note: For fallen trees tangled in electrical wires, PG&E must clear the wires before Public Works can remove the trees.
  • For missed garbage/recycling collections, please contact Recology online or by phone at 650-595-3900.

Power is mostly restored in Atherton

According to the PG&E Outage Website there are a few small pockets of outages that remain in Atherton (approximately 100 customers). PG&E notes anticipated restoration by late this evening (2/24). PG&E has advised that they are aware of all outages and repairs are either in progress or crews have been assigned to assess and report so that crews can be assigned.

Extended outages are disruptive and the Town has voiced significant concern to the regional PG&E representatives regarding the extent of the outages and the limited communication/accuracy of repair estimates. Elevated poles/wires are one of the critical points of failure on the system. Trees, wind, and vehicles are a significant cause of such failures. Downed wires will not only eliminate access to power, but can also eliminate access to other wired and wireless connectivity – internet, phone, cable, and critical facility connections.

Some areas and systems are designed with redundancies but most are not and it is clear from this recent event that the electrical utility systems are not immediately resilient. Undergrounding of poles and wires will mitigate, to some degree, the concerns of poles being affected by downed trees and wind; however, not all areas of the system would underground and where those systems surface, lies the point of failure. Underground Utility Districts can be formed by residents and the Town has an FAQ on its website that walks property owners through the process. The Town does not have sufficient Rule 20A funds to initiate a Town-sponsored District; but property owners can seek to form a Rule 20B District.

For those without power, the Town’s facilities (City Hall, Library, Council Chambers) are open and accessible. There is heat, electricity, and wifi. If you need access off hours, you can reach out to the Police Department and they can provide access into the Council Chambers. The Town has provided some basic information regarding preservation and use of food stores and other perishables during an extended power outage.

Other solutions to help mitigate an extended outage include the use of back up generators and/or solar with a battery backup. For long-term outages, it may be advisable during inclement weather to seek warm shelter elsewhere.

Survey your property to determine if there are trees that need to be maintained in ways that prevent them from becoming a point of failure to the electrical system. Evaluate the placement of new vegetation in a way that future-proofs the growth so that it does not interfere with nearby utility lines.

Lastly, survey your property now to determine if there are branches or trees that appear to be failing. These should be cleared to prevent damage to life or property. If you need to speak to the Town about removal of such trees, reach out to Sally Bentz, Town Arborist – sbentz@ci.atherton.ca.us or visit the Town’s website for details regarding tree removal.

Photo of bundled up man and sweater-clad Yorkshire Tearier who enjoys puddle jumping even in the chill by Linda Hubbard (c) 2023

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Please help support InMenlo! Your contribution will help us continue to bring InMenlo to you. Click on the button below to contribute!