Danville residents in the dark about plethora of PG&E outages

Danville residents and town leaders say they're in the dark as to why they've had 41 PG&E power outages just this summer.

Many restaurants say it's been a nightmare for businesses.

Haven Piatt, Bridges restaurant general manager, said it's really embarrassing to  serve customers food and then have the lights go out.

"You can't even ring them up," Piatt said. 

The Town Council sent a letter to PG&E in mid-August. And on Tuesday, the utility responded and sent Aaron Johnson, the vice-president for the Bay Area, to a public meeting. 

He started with an apology. 

"The level of reliability that you've seen in and around the danville area has not been acceptable," Johnson told the crowd. 

Johnson says one possible reason for the outages is that two substations that supply power to Danville had broken equipment and all those customers were diverted to a third substation. 

"With that heavier loading at all three circuits we did have some equipment give out," he suggested. 

Another reason is that the enhanced powerline safety settings, he said, which are designed to shut off power if a tree, animal or other failure is detected, were connected together and "it made it harder for us to isolate the high wildfire areas into small pockets."

PG&E records show that Danville had 31 outages from June to August. Twenty-two of those, the utility determined, were because equipment failure, animal contact or vegetation.

Nine of those outages are unknown or still under investigation

Residents say they want solutions.

One man at the meeting said they've been told about fixes before but "this has been a trail of broken promises."

PG&E said they have reduced the vegetation, replaced overhead equipment and replaced about a half-mile of underground equipment. 

Johnson also said PG&E is are working on a reliability report for 2024 and will focus on Danville.

Meanwhile, Danville Mayor Robert Storer said he hopes they will create a special carve out area to protect power for downtown Danville businesses, as well as improve the communication with the community about any future outages.