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Power restored after massive outage

At least 1.4 million lost power in historic California power failure Thursday night

SAN DIEGO (UPI) | September 9, 2011

Electricity was restored to all of the 1.4 million Southern Californians who lost power in a massive blackout, San Diego Gas & Electric said Friday.

The power outage was the most extensive in California history, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Company Vice President Dave Geier said despite the restoration "the system is still fragile," the Los Angeles Times reported.

He urged customers to use electricity sparingly to prevent an overload of the system.

Geier told a news conference it appeared a worker for the Arizona power agency caused the Thursday blackout but it was unclear exactly what the worker did. The worker's action apparently caused the San Onofre nuclear power plant to go offline with a "cascading" impact on other sources, Geier said.

"We have never had this happen before and we see no reason it will happen again," he said.

A multi-agency investigation was being launched to determine the cause of the outage.

Schools in the San Diego County area were closed Friday but essential services were operating.

Amtrak announced that train service in and out of San Diego resumed except for northbound train No. 567.

One of two major transmission links that connect the San Diego area to the electrical grid for the western United States was knocked out, officials said.

The result was a full system blackout across San Diego County, southern Orange County, western Arizona and northern Baja California.

Engineers for San Diego Gas & Electric worked Thursday night to execute a "black start" from zero power.

Ali Yari, director of electrical transmission, said it had to be a "very methodic and gradual transition to full power."

Mike Niggli, president and chief operating officer, said he learned of the blackout the way everyone else did when the lights went out in his office just after 3 p.m. PDT.

Brian Pennings, an officer with the California Highway Patrol, said massive traffic problems began within minutes of traffic signals going out. He said there were also a number of collisions caused by drivers "breezing through" intersections without stopping.

Most air service was halted, and rail officials said trains would stop running once backup power for signals failed.

Copyright 2011 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.

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