City to offer exhaustive report on Sept. 8 blackout

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The city of San Diego plans to put together an
authoritative “after-action report” on the region-wide blackout earlier this
month, much like the one published after the 2007 wildfires, a top municipal
official said this week.

“What went well, what didn't go well, recommendations, timelines and
costs,” Chief Operating Officer Jay Goldstone told members of the City
Council's Natural Resources and Culture Committee.

Goldstone said he hopes to have the review, which will look at how all
city departments handled the Sept. 8 power outage, completed in early November.
The city put out an 89-page review of operations during the firestorms four
years ago.

Also, Ann Sasaki, the Deputy Director of the Public Utilities
Department, told committee members that a reliance on San Diego Gas & Electric
to provide backup power to municipal water facilities will be reassessed.

The late-afternoon outage began in Arizona but cascaded through the
power grid to also affect San Diego County and part of northern Baja
California. Millions were left in the dark, and the loss of electricity
resulted in two massive spills at sewage pumping stations.

Sasaki said about 2.6 million gallons of sewage spilled into the
Sorrento Valley from one station and eventually flowed to Los Penasquitos
Creek. Another 870,000 gallons spilled from the other station into the
Sweetwater River.

The totals were far higher than initially reported. She said the first
figures were based on visual observations by employees, “so it's somewhat
subjective,” Sasaki said.

She said many water and sewage pumping stations have redundant
electrical systems feeding off separate SDG&E substations, but that arrangement
didn't work in a widespread outage that affected all of the power plants.

Department officials will look at whether they can install on-site power
generators and compare the costs against the benefits.

Despite the spills, the department delivered potable water to 90 percent
of its customers during the power outage, and treated more than 97 percent of
the sewage that entered the system during that time.

J.C. Thomas, of SDG&E, said the utility will work with the city, which
will have plenty of options to choose from, including using solar energy to
generate electricity.

The report does not say how long it will take department officials to
evaluate their options, but the committee plans to take up the issue again at
its November meeting.

Categories: KUSI