Failed Candlestick Power Line Was Repaired by PG&E

PG&E's "national embarrassment" may have been caused by a faulty fix to a power line.

By Chris Roberts
|  Thursday, Dec 22, 2011  |  Updated 1:40 PM PDT
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Failed Candlestick Power Line Had Problems

The blue spark in the lower left-hand corner was caused by a power line failing, according to PG&E.

Before the power line near Candlestick Park failed on Monday night -- sending the nationally-televised Monday Night Football game between the San Francisco 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers into darkness -- Pacific Gas and Electric Company had put a patch onto the offending power line at least once, according to the Bay Citizen.

The first outage occurred when a "bump sleeve" -- a steel sleeve that acts as a kind of splice between two lines, not dissimilar from a Chinese finger trap -- failed on a 12,000 volt line outside of Candlestick Park at 5:18 p.m. shortly before kickoff, the utility said.

Still, that alone should not have cut power to the stadium -- a second power line is supposed to turn on as a backup. PG&E could not immediately say why the backup did not click on, the Bay Citizen reported.

The cause of the second power outage -- during the second quarter of the Niners' 20-3 win -- is still not yet known, according to PG&E.

And in the meantime, PG&E isn't exactly sure when it repaired the failed overhead line, the Bay Citizen reported. Two problems with the line have occurred in recent years: balloons struck the wire in June 2010, and a bird was electrocuted on the line in fall 2010.

The line has been "visually inspected" by PG&E crews in the time since. Regulators and power advocates say that such inspections are too lax, and cause PG&E's system to be prone to such failures.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who in the past has been effusive in his praise of the utility, called the outages a "national embarrassment."
 

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