"With our interconnection with Los Angeles, we can bring in enough
power there to support the city," said Bill Hall, the electrical
services administrator for Glendale Water and Power. "We also have
connections to Burbank, so we kind of mutually support each other."
Hall said if a plant went down in Glendale, Burbank or Los
Angeles, power would automatically be rerouted from other plants to
avoid a complete blackout. Some areas would lose power, but a
complete outage, like the one that gripped New York City and other
cities Thursday, would be avoided. Officials had not determined early
Thursday evening what caused the outage, but some news reports said
lightning struck one of the power plants.
"There'd probably be a big outage to start with, because the
system's automated and it dumps enough customers to stay online,"
Hall said. "We'd bring them back gradually."
Utility companies took measures to prevent massive blackouts after
one hit Aug. 10, 1996, knocking out power for hours on the entire
West Coast, said Steve Conroy, a spokesman for Southern California
Edison, which supplies power to La Crescenta and La Canada
Changes included increased communication about scheduled line
repairs and maintenance activities, as well as additional equipment
to detect problems and redirect the flow of electricity to avoid
"Some changes were mechanical, some involved infrastructure and
equipment, and a lot was communication," Conroy said. "I'll never say
never, but those steps will help mitigate what occurred on the East
In an emergency, Glendale could cut itself off from the rest of
the West Coast power grid and power the city entirely from the local
Grayson Power Plant, City Manager Jim Starbird said.
"That's one of the advantages of having local generation,"
Starbird said. "That doesn't mean that you might not blow something
locally, but if the Western grid goes off, we can power up that way."
Starbird said it would take about an hour to power up the Grayson
plant, but it could supply enough energy to power the entire city if
residents were conservative, keeping air conditioning and other
nonessential systems turned off.
"We think our local plant is pretty sturdy and reliable," Hall
said. "In general, the electrical system on the West Coast has a lot
more reliability built into it, partially because geographically it's
spread out. The transmission corridors aren't as tightly packed."