Repetitive PG&E power outages in Danville angering business owners

Residents and business owners in Danville are frustrated with PG&E because the power has unexpectedly gone out more than one dozen times so far this year.

"We haven’t been getting any kind of notifications, it just happens," said Jennifer Hughes with The Peasant & The Pear restaurant downtown. "It’s a headache to say the least."

The latest power outages occurred Monday affecting thousands of households from Alamo to San Ramon. A PG&E outage map showed more than 5,500 without power.

Hughes said it was lights out during lunch for several hours. Then, she said after electricity was restored, an outage occurred during dinner leaving hungry customers and busy cooks in the dark.

"We have checks that need to be paid out, we have guests who are sitting and not sure what to do, we have a kitchen that’s halfway through their tickets, can’t see what they’re making," she said.

KTVU spoke with nearly a dozen residents by phone and in person Tuesday who all described at least four outages in less than two weeks. 

PG&E said Tuesday afternoon it was aware of the widespread outages and said the utility is taking immediate steps to improve reliability for the East Bay communities.

But for restaurants already hit hard by the COVID pandemic, the repeated, unplanned loss of revenue has become a new obstacle.

"It’s tough on the restaurants because we have so much refrigeration and equipment," Jill Rebiejo, owner of Pete’s Brass Rail said. "People say why don’t you get a generator and it’s like, I’d need 20!"

Rebiejo said food has spoiled during many of Danville’s 19 outages so far this year, resulting in thousands of dollars going out with the garbage.

The biggest fear, she said, is not knowing when an outage may happen next.

"I am rushing today trying to ring some credit cards in before the power goes out because once that goes out, a lot of times we have to eat it," Rebiejo said.

PG&E said the power lines in Danville and neighboring San Ramon and Alamo are equipped with technology to prevent wildfires. Specifically, devices automatically turn off power within one tenth of a second if a hazard like a tree branch strikes a line.

"While this technology helps to keep customers safe, it can also result in unplanned outages," the utility said in a statement. "We are taking immediate action to identify the cause of these outages and prevent them from occurring again."

The sensitivity of that system has been felt on several occasions by the co-owners of Diablo Dentist Group in Danville.

"We have had to cancel patients, we have had to reset our equipment," dentist Kamile Lim said. "You feel terrible, but you can’t really do anything about it if we have no power."

Lim said there have been occasions where outages have forced them to stop mid-procedure resulting in temporary fixes and inconveniences.

"We don’t want to hurt our patients, so we just do something temporarily as much as we can with one of our flashlights," she said. "It’s kind of like the stone ages."

The constant power problems have left many furious over the current uncertainty.

PG&E said it is working on an immediate fix but would not answer any of KTVU’s questions surrounding timeline or specifics.

"Our hands are tied," Hughes said. "There’s really nothing we can do besides sit around and wait for PG&E to do better."

Brooks Jarosz is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email him at and follow him on Facebook and Twitter @BrooksKTVU