Electrical service in the downtown area went on the fritz for about an hour and a half Wednesday afternoon. Lights began to flicker on and off, and people rushed to their computers hoping to save files before they disappeared.
Jason Alderman, spokesman for Pacific Gas and Electric Co., said the problem was due to voltage problems at a substation on the Berkeley/Oakland border. More than 15,000 customers in Berkeley, Emeryville and Oakland were affected.
“We’re very sensitive, especially when it hits a core area like downtown Berkeley,” Alderman said. “As far as outages go, we got this one back on pretty quick.”
Alderman said although voltage surges can damage sensitive electronic instruments, such as computers, PG&E had not received any damaged-equipment complaints from consumers.
He added that anyone whose gear was damaged could call the company at (800)PGE-5000.
The outage was unrelated to brown-outs, which occurred in the same area last week, according to Alderman. He said those problems were due to work being done on underground lines along Shattuck Avenue.
Alderman, on behalf of his employer, apologized to the Berkeley citizens for both of the service disruptions.
“We never like outages, but we’re even more chagrined when it happens in two consecutive weeks,” he said.