PG&E says failed high-line connecting caused Monday night's blackout at Candlestick Park

'More questions than answers,' 49ers communications director says

PG&E investigators said today that the power outages that delayed a game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Candlestick Park Monday night were caused when an overhead electrical wire splice failed.

In meetings with representatives of the city and county of San Francisco, which owns and operates Candlestick Park, PG&E officials said investigators found that the first outage was caused when a splice, which connects two overhead electrical wires failed, and the wire fell to the ground near the stadium. Although the stadium has a backup feed and that system switched on immediately, the metal halide stadium lights took several minutes to cycle back on.

"I have been in contact with San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White to discuss the latest on the investigation," said Geisha Williams, executive vice president of electric operations.

"Additionally, technical experts, including engineering teams from PG&E and the city and county, are meeting to trace the causes of the outages and to identify solutions that will prevent recurrence," he added.

The first outage was reported shortly before 5:30 p.m. and service was restored about 20 minutes later. The game, which was scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m., started at around 6 p.m.

The second outage occurred during the second quarter, at around 6:45 p.m. Power was restored and the game resumed at around 7 p.m.

"There are more questions than answers," said Steve Weakland, the 49ers' director of corporate communications. We have asked PG&E to assure us and the NFL that this will not reoccur."

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee today called the power outages at Candlestick Park a "national embarrassment."

Officials from the 49ers initially said Monday that the first outage was caused by a blown transformer, and an aerial video appears to show

a flash near the stadium at the same time the lights went out.

PG&E spokesman Jason King said the utility's preliminary investigation revealed that an automatic transfer switch on stadium property

that could have prevented the outage was not working properly.

The switch, which King said is owned by the city, is supposed to provide a redundancy in the system in case of an outage, he said.

"Why power was lost is under investigation, but had that switch operated properly, we wouldn't have seen that first outage," King said.

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission General Manager Ed Harrington said that the city is looking into whether the switch failed.

King said PG&E "is working closely with the city and county of San Francisco to determine the cause of the two separate outages, figure out what happened, and work to stop it from happening again."

Police are also investigating a bomb threat to the stadium phoned in prior to the game, which the 49ers won 20-3.

Bay City News contributed to this story.


Like this comment
Posted by common sense
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 20, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Who spliced the wire? PGE?

Like this comment
Posted by Not uncommon
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2011 at 11:03 am

Unless properly tested and maintained it is not uncommon for emergency transfer switches to fail. Testing under actual conditions is not easy.
I was inspecting Lucille Packard Childrens Hospital when an actual power failure occurred. The emergency backup switch for the operating rooms failed (even tho it was tested routinely under "simulated" conditions.) The head maintenance engineer and I ran to turn it on manually.

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