Power mishap damages appliances for Livermore residents

August 12, 2012 2:00:26 PM PDT
Neighbors in the East Bay have concerns about the safety of the homes after a power line replacement caused a damaging power surge. The flick of a switch could have prevented the costly power surge, but instead, it fried appliances, TVs and air conditioners. The surge of electricity ripped through 28 homes on Hudson Way in Livermore.

PG&E tells us the when power on Hudson Way was being upgraded, there was a switch on the transformer that had to be turned to the higher voltage setting before sending power through to the 28 homes. Apparently the contractor forgot.

"The fridge, the stove, TVs, stereo, electric toothbrushes, fan heating pad, that kind of stuff," said resident Kathryn Payne.

Those things went "poof" when a power surge from a transformer sent twice the voltage to 28 homes on a street in Livermore. A PG&E contractor, Hotline, was switching service from 12,000 volts to 21,000 volts when the extra voltage went to homes. All 28 SmartMeters on the homes were replaced. One we saw still shows the charring from the surge.

Payne took us through her home showing us the things she has to replace to get life back to normal. Luckily her air conditioner was repaired, but nothing else.

"At this point I haven't replaced anything because I wasn't sure how they were going to reimburse. I haven't really heard from anyone," said Payne.

Across the street neighbor Dee Kotla piled up all the items minus her washer and dryer which were toasted by the surge. The only thing she has replaced so far is the washer and her laundry is drying on a line outside.

"I've gotten my washing machine replaced, got to wait a week for my dryer, and my credit card is maxed to the limit right now so I can't get the rest of the things that I've lost," said Kotla.

All these neighbors have to buy the items lost and then bill the contractor. These homes lost hundreds if not thousands of dollars of electrical items to the problem. PG&E spokesperson Brian Swanson says it all could have been avoided by a flick of a switch.

"When the contractor was switching over to the new 21kV line, they forgot to switch the transformer from 12kV to 21kV," said Swanson.

Residents wonder if the appliances are the only damage. They're now worried about their homes inside wiring.

"Are we really safe in our house after this power surge? Is our house going to burn down in a month from now?" said Kotla.

PG&E apologizes and says they will make sure everyone gets compensated and their homes checked. This all happened Wednesday and some people we couldn't talk to are still without air conditioning. The contractor at Hotline so far has not returned our calls.


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