San Fernando Valley Blackout That Left 140,000 Without Power Puts Spotlight on L.A.’s Failing Infrastructure

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Power was fully restored to 94,000 customers on July 9, 2017. (Credit: KTLA)

The explosion at a Northridge power plant that left 140,000 customers across the San Fernando Valley without electricity last weekend was a major blow to Los Angeles’ power grid.

It marked the first time in 12 years a Department of Water and Power receiving station was knocked offline. And it left a large swath of the Valley without power, in some cases for 12 hours, during one of the hottest days of the year.

On Monday, officials said the explosion was probably related to excessive energy demands due to the heat wave and was a stark reminder of the challenge Los Angeles faces in modernizing its aging electrical system.

DWP General Manager David Wright called the incident “highly unusual.” The exact cause of the blaze is under investigation, but Wright said it’s believed mineral oil being used as a cooling agent caught on fire and caused the transformer to explode.

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