Equipment failure in Morro Bay caused outage

June 24, 2013

pg&eAn outage of two PG&E transmission lines in Morro Bay Sunday evening caused more than 150,000 Central Coast customers to lose power. [Tribune]

The outage started around 9:30 p.m. Sunday and lasted until about 12:20 a.m. Monday. Residences lost power from Solvang to Cambria.

PG&E announced on Twitter Sunday night that Diablo Canyon Power Plant operated smoothly during the outage.

French Hospital, Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center and Arroyo Grande Community Hospital all ran on generators while the power remained out.

Sierra Vista spokesman Ron Yukelson said the hospital postponed one surgery.

Twin Cities Hospital in Templeton, however, did not lose its power.

The San Luis Obispo Police Department received numerous calls about the outage but did not report any emergencies.



KVEC is the designated emergency station. Did you know they reduce their transmission power at sunset due to FCC rules so as to not interfere with another station in the valley. This makes reception on north county weak. Wonder if they still have to reduce power during an emergency? Also wonder if their advertisers know they don’t have as many listeners after sunset.

Jorge Estrada

With KVEC as our designated emergency station without dependable standby power and KCBX, our National Public Radio station, that does not broadcast our public Board of Supervisor meeting because other money interests, you got to stop and think about this.

You must plan, prep and re-verify YOUR needs, vote YOUR concience and never send money to fix someone elses claimed problem. Give your time if you have it to give, always call it as you see it because being PC enables too much BS. This PG&E failure has been a good dress rehearsal.


As an amateur (ham) radio operator, I had all the info I needed in about 5 minutes of monitoring a local frequency, with the ability to join in a group conversation or ‘net’ and ask questions and provide status.

Cal Poly regularly offers ‘exam cram’ sessions to get your amateur license in one day. That’s how I did it, and it was very beneficial in this instance, and having the radio on during the outage set my family at ease. Since everyone in this area immediately thinks ‘DIABLO’ when the power goes out, it was good to hear other ‘hams’ who knew the details of the outage.

And also, you’re not dependent on the government to give you information, you’re listening to volunteers in the area who are more than eager to help in situations like this, and often have better information that hasn’t been laundered by politics.


Great info Gray! Is there a local ham radio group/meeting/etc.? I don’t have any $$$, but I need to do something. I can’t stand being without info during an emergency for precisely the reasons you describe + more.



You can go to for info about the Cal Poly Amateur Radio Club and for info about license exam sessions. Since Cal Poly is on Summer Break, they won’t be having any regular meetings. They do their exam test sessions once per quarter when school is in session (fall, winter, spring). But you can email them and they can get you in contact with other amateur radio operators near you. There is also the SLOECC which is ran by SLO County for emergency radio support that activates in moments of disaster events like earthquakes, tsumani’s, etc that if you have a license and radio can listen in on for information. The SLOECC nets, when activated, can be a wealth of info. Plus during normal times (no disaster going on) they do weekly net operations to keep skills sharpened (along with W6BHZ which is SLOECC # 16) and allow you to practice your radio skills during net operations so that you understand the protocol when net operations are going.

By getting a license, which is real super easy (don’t have to learn morse code anymore – unless you want to have a proven skill that works very well) and is very inexpensive to get the license. You can also acquire very capable handheld radios for less than $200 that will allow you to connect with a local repeater where you can listen to fellow radio operators talk and share info (as ds_gray mentioned). Also, the radio can dial in frequencies for local fire, police, ambulance nets where you can listen only and be informed on what’s going on around you. It can be very entertaining and easing on your mind when you can remain connected and know what’s going on.

Good luck and hope to hear you on the radio net some day. My call sign is KJ6MNL and I got my license thru W6BHZ at Cal Poly.



Excellent. Thank you! :)


I found helpful info on KCBX – someone was there updating periodically on how much juice was left on their generator and how they were trying to conserve power to last as long as they could. They played taped music for awhile and then would break in with the latest. Unfortunately, they had the same limited info given out on recorded PGE message. I wrote KCBX a thank you e-mail today and hope that you or someone will be looking into why we have that “wonderful” Emergency Response center sitting there with no one answering the phone in such situations. I think PGE is selling us a false sense of security.


I agree, Mercury. Billions and trillions have been spent on “emergency systems” across the nation… which regularly fail. And, ho hum, nobody cares. A perfect visual metaphor is like when FEMA put “Closed due to weather” on their door during Hurricane Sandy. And why do we need these systems again? And then someone always comes along and defends these tax dollah suckahs with the (shrug) “they’re only human” argument. So if we’re no better off than we were before even after trillions of dollars spent, then why do we need these “emergency systems” again?


FEMA and emergency and PG&E and power are two different arguments. FEMA bailing in the wake of a storm, well YEA not good on their part. PG&E losing power on a late Sunday summer evening? Who was in danger?


I know I’m going to get beat up over this but here goes. I have never been able to understand how everyone gets up in arms about being without power for a short time. It was 9:30 on a Sunday night. Go to bed.

People on the East coast go days every year from blackouts caused by weather. Most power outages here are few and far in between. And at that most of the time very short.

When I moved here in ’80, the power in the North County use to go off a lot more than now. Even then we had some candles handy and when out lit them and sat around and talked. So what has changed? We miss the net and some stupid reality show? GOD FORBID!!

Yes I know that there are a few people that need for medical and most all that has short term backup.

So again what is the big deal.

O.k. now go hit the down arrow and start trashing me for speaking the truth.


You make many good points but what if there was a true emergency and our only emergency station was off the air? Seems like in these days we ought to do better than that.


Yes we need to have backups in place but this was the first time and people are way up in arms over this.

Also from what people are saying, no stations were off the air, they just weren’t broadcasting.

If this was terrorism or weather, then I could understand needing info ASAP. There was no cold weather that any one would sufffer from and a standard run of the mill late Sunday night.

Incovenience? Yes. Major problem? No.


Those responsible for design, installation and maintenance of the system seriously failed if they did not include plans for the event of failure of two large transmission lines.

I understand the necessity of having large transmission lines, but there need to be backup plans to prevent failure of multiple large transmission lines at one time.

And, yes, it IS a big deal. Homes and businesses depend on a reliable source of energy. They pay companies to provide reliable sources of energy. If those companies fail in the performance of their job, then that IS a very big deal.


Reliable? DId you miss it? How many hours off over the years?

In my present home since 2000 I have been without power a total of about 4-5 hours total. Now with all the hours in the day over those years what fraction of a fraction of a percent is that?

Mary NOTHING in life is 100% Boy you must want perfection in everything.


Something you may not realize is that our power system does have redundancy built in. The transmission of lines from the sub station into and around your town are wired in a loop. If a transformer on your pole outside you house goes bad, you will lose power in the imediate area but the computers reroute it (power) in the opposite direction to keep the amount of people out to a minimum.

I doubt they do it on the transmission lines as cost and or about impossible.

The system is built with three in mind. If you will notice the next time your lights go out, they usually will blink out then on. If it does this once it will stay on usually. If it does it three times you are out for at least 45+ minutes. That is because each time it blinks, that is the system trying to reroute the power because of a problem. The 45min. is because now they have to get the Trouble man out there asap to find the problem.

How do I know this? Ask a PG& E line man, that’s how.


As far as power we are doing better. Like I said, when I first moved here, it went out WAY more than now.

When I was a kid in Southern CA. power went out 5 times more often than it does now.

And yet everyone bemoans things are bad.

People it has gotten better, let’s be honest.


Oh and one last for clarity. I don’t work for PG&E. I just believe that you need to be fair.

I have many a things I can and do beat up PG&E over. This is not one of them.


Who cares how reliable the power delivery was when you moved here? That is an argument that fails before it even gets out of the gate.

Times have changed since you first moved here. Your argument to excuse power companies from failing to prevent a very widespread power outage fails because times have changed, technology has changed, and population density has changed.

With the energy-delivery technology available (including technology to prevent widespread power failure events), consumers should well be able to expect that their power suppliers will dependably deliver power.

For two large transmission lines to fail at the same time indicates a failure in planning for problems that could lead to power outages.

Since our electrical power originates at a nuclear power facility, we should wonder what other failure issues has PG&E failed to plan for?


Arguement fails? Did you miss it? If something that fails at a rate of say 20% and goes down to say 3% and you say that didn’t change?

Can you do me a favor and poke your head out your front door and tell me what color the sky is in your world???

Large scale has happened every great once in awhile. DId you catch the news about the New York one years past?? GEEZ!

As the world turns

It becomes clear the US is slowly slipping into third world status when its utilities begin to fail and people not only accept it but also defend the failures.


OMG! This is the first time on central coast such a large area. Is there going to be more possible problems in future? Probably as the system is getting older but it has nothing to do with it not being built right in the first place.

It isn’t a case of acceptance. It is a case that I don’t get my panties in a bunch over something that happens less than 1% of the time in a functioning system.

I have a question for you then. Do you know what an acceptable failure rate (actually is really good) for production of an item? 3%

I use to work on an assembly line when I was young. We were taught (rightfully so) that 100% perfection on a day in and day out basis is an impossibility. Now you stlll want no mistakes. That is where the 3% comes in. If you can stay in that window, that is still DAMN GOOD!!!!!

Let me pose this to the few of you perfectionists. Have you EVER made a mistake at work? Have you ever had a tool or something else break at home? Are you still driving a car from fifty years ago that is all original? Yea you get my point.


Glad to see someone on here is awake, “As the world turns” ;) We’re going to see more and more utility failures, infrastructure collapses and on-purpose accidents/fires/tragedies while the automated troll-bots continue to tell us to shut up and take it. Like these AI systems can’t be recognized for what they are.


Did you (like World) miss the point about systems getting older??

The infrastructure of the U.S. from Highways to power transmission is getting older. We will have to spent BILLIONS on BILLIONS that we don’t have.

So seeing as you are full of ideas, how do you propose we start fixing a problem that will take years money wise and construction wise sooner??

I’m sorry I live in a place called reality. That doesn’t mean I’m complacent or agree 100%. I realize this is going to take YEARS!!!


I’m thankful that it doesn’t happen more often. It could. Sorry I’m a glass half full kind of guy and positive. Not a glass half empty and negative.

As the world turns

The 2013 Report Card prepared by the American Society of Civil Engineers gives America’s infrastructure a GPA of D+. They estimate $3.6 trillion needs to be spent by 2020. China, India and European are spending the equivalent of hundreds of billions of dollars on their infrastructure. America’s global competitiveness, quality of life and job creation is being lost. Third world status is being created.

Unfortunately, many people on this forum apparently do not understand how to compete on a global market, nor do they want to admit that if the US continues to ignore this infrastructure crisis, our grandchildren will be sneaking south of the border into Mexico looking for work.


@ As the world turns : Excellent and so true! We’ve been turned into an economy where the only jobs are government and service sector – would you like fries with that? ;)


no just a little off the top


These “arguments” are specious at best. Seriously? Mockery, ridicule and “get over it” are the best you can do?

Where were you when we lost power for several days and some for a week+ ?! If you’ve really been here since the 80s (like you say), how come you didn’t know this? There’s a reason why we get nervous whenever the lights go out and it would be nice if these “emergency systems” actually kicked in and provided information like they claim (else why are we paying for them?!) People with Smart phones can probably get some info during a blackout, but the rest of us have to sit in the dark (pun intended).

Some people do their work at night (and especially in an economy like this), so the “just get over it” argument doesn’t fly. FYI: The largest demographic of TV watchers is the over-40 crowd. The rest of us rarely watch TV, or not at all. So much for your version of “reality.”

The murky knowledge that someone else somewhere is suffering something doesn’t reduce suffering here. I’ve never understood the gloating-over-the-suffering-of-others-will-make-you-feel-better mentality, nor the shut-up-and-take-it-because-someone-somewhere-is-suffering-more-than-you idea, although I do recognize the new you’d-better-feel-guilty-for-being-a-gluttonous-American meme that is being social-engineered into our culture and shoveled down our throats. It’s disgusting.


If you are referring to the power out for about two days in parts of Atascadero back in the early nineties, yea it happened. Of course during a storm (again) so I and a lot of people had the expectation that it could be awhile.

As for weather you want to believe I have been here since 1980 I don’t know what to tell you. I have been.

Yes I take power seriously for those in need. All hospitals (by law) have backup systems so they are covered. No emergency.

Show me a case where this was nothing more than an inconvenience for the vast majority and I’ll listen. But that is the reality. It was for most an inconvenience. Your whining about the power out makes you sound like a spoiled brat. I am VERY thankful that it is there at my ready 99.9% out of any given day. Please dispute that and tell me where I am wrong.

And again for all you types that want to be negative in your lives about everything, I believe in being fair when it is warranted.

I am not a big defender of PG&E. Again they have done some things I don’t agree with (San Bruno one of them) but this is NOT the hill I’m going to die on.


Um. January 2010?

Name-calling is inversely proportional to perception of intelligence. Kindly knock it off.

Jorge Estrada

If an airline were to crash and their mechanics were paid minimum wages, there would be a price to pay to Helen Gone. Now that PG&E has pick one of the brightest night to go dark, maybe it time for them to go to Helen Weight for a recount of who they employ and what they pay. That includes the sub/sub/sub-contractors, you know those guys in your backyard while your at work during the day.


I feel like we observed a complete system failure last night. There was no power nor information available within 150 miles. How is it possible that our grid is designed such that there is no redundancy and that 2 transmission line failures can create such a widespread outage?! I have never seen anything like this in SLO. In the past, blackouts effected only small areas. It seems like increased centralization and “modernization” has accomplished the exact opposite of what people would hope for.


I agree, mkaney. What I don’t get is why there was no information about the power failure, and when we could expect the return of power.

Our government has made it their main interest to keep Americans good and frightened about the impending threat of evil-eyed boogey-men destroying our country.

So when the power goes out to the extent that you cannot see any power available for miles and miles around you, and when there is no information about what caused the problem and when it can be expected to be fixed, they could at least get off their kiesters and leave a phone message at the emergency center, and at PG&E, giving us the information for which we have the need–and the right–to know about the dependability of our energy-supply delivery system.


I figure a blackout or two may help Skilling get a few more years knocked off his sentence for the enron racketry


A three hour power outage is not an emergency, that’s why KVEC wasn’t broadcasting emergency information. Had there been an actual emergency, they would have been transmitting the appropriate info.


Power came on at precisely 12:56 am where I am – I just happened to be looking at the clock when the lights came on.

I agree the lack of information over the radio was highly disturbing. I couldn’t find anything except music and pre-programmed pap about “lunchtime liposuction” and “Ed Snowden is a felon.” Oh yeah, and there was a car accident on Wilshire Boulevard.

There was a major power outage in California and not one radio station bothered to cover it?!

And none of these federally-funded “emergency alert systems” kicked in?!

Not even a “Poly alert”?!


Give KCBX a break – they’re still testing their new database.


KSBY reporting was ridiculous Sunday night, spending 30 minutes rehashing the same 4 minutes of information over and over.


Come on, it was the weekend right?


Next time we will request all emergencies happen Monday thru Friday between 9am and 5pm, will that help?


If they had something new to report, it would have been one thing. Instead they kept rehashing the same ino over and over.

Not to mention when did a relatively small power outage for a few hours become an “emergency”?


Not sure you are aware of every persons situation and what their electrical requirements are so for some it could have been an emergency, for many others, including myself, not so much.


؟؟؟؟ Whoa cowboy! Meant as irony!؟؟؟؟


All local radio stations lost power but KCBX, and they just played music. I thought we could count on some stations keeping us informed about local emergencies. fat chance.



Did they at least play “That’s the Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia”?


Hot Dog…. You are so right! I remember the 41 fire and KVEC was the only one on the air and they did a great job of reporting back then.


But this time they went off the air.


I’m not so concerned about the stations that are always music stations and continuing to play music, it’s what is expected from them. My disappointment is for our so called “local” station, that always claims to be our only local talk station and bills themselves as the best local morning news station. It seems maybe the best years of their 75 years on the air ended many many years ago.


Pretty harsh. I’d not expect any radio to have an “on standby” person to deliver breaking news – especially Sunday evening. Sure, it would be nice, but the reality is: people cost money.

What I was able to teach my kids was just how fragile our existence is on utilities, farmers, etc. Other people bringing us stuff we take for granted. Something Oceano learned when their sewage backed up one morning… 8o


Not too harsh, KVEC is the designated emergency station and they failed.


Yeah, but look on the bright side, hotdog. They most likely would have blamed President Obama for the blackout, given the paranoid mouthpieces they broadcast.


How would PG&E if their customers individual “bill-paying delivery systems” failed and our bill payments failed to be delivered?


With technology today if a station really wanted to be our “local news station” a procedure could have been in place for a person from their smart phone to send in updates at a minimum until a person got to the station