Electrical outage blacks out more than 5,000 Berkeleyans

A series of electrical outages in North Berkeley at 12:56 12:25 p.m. today is affecting more than 5,000 houses and businesses. PG&E do not yet know the cause of the outage or the expected time to restore power.

Among the sites affected is Berkeley High School, with its 3,200 students. Principal Pasquale Scuderi activated the school’s automated phone tree to notify families that despite the outage, school would continue with normal hours. The school has put in some auxiliary lighting, but is largely making do with natural daylight.

Berkeleyside will update as more information becomes available.

Update 1:37 Power is out throughout Berkeley’s downtown district and in the Gourmet Ghetto. Some businesses have closed because of lack of power, but others are stumbling through. At Lobelia, a women’s clothing store on Shattuck in the Gourmet Ghetto, customers were given flashlights to look at clothing.

Update 2:08 According to a PG&E spokesperson, power had been restored to most of the affected areas of Berkeley by 1:45 today. At its peak, PG&E says the outage affected 15,000 Berkeley customers. By 1:45 p.m., that number was down to 3,000. A quick tour of Downtown and the Gourmet Ghetto showed that power had been restored to everywhere visible. Temporary stop signs were still in the middle of Shattuck, but the stoplights were working (although some were on flashing red, rather than a typical cycle).

PG&E is still investigating the cause of the outages, but believes they are the result of problems with an electrical substation in Berkeley.

Update 2:15 PG&E confirms that power was restored to all customers in Berkeley by 1:50 p.m. today. The cause has been isolated to a piece of equipment in an electrical substation.