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Gunshots Linked to Silicon Valley Substation Vandalism

California Power Grid Operator Asks Silicon Valley to Cut Demand
California Independent System Operator Corp. issued a “flex alert,” or an urgent call for conservation, for the San Jose area, particularly Silicon Valley and Santa Clara. Photographer: Ken James/Bloomberg

PG&E Corp. said gunshots damaged a substation in Silicon Valley, triggering an alert to conserve power in the region that is home to Apple Inc., Facebook Inc. and Google Inc.

PG&E’s Metcalf substation near San Jose was damaged by gunfire early this morning, Joe Molica, a spokesman for the San Francisco-based utility, said in a telephone interview. Multiple gunshots were reported in the vicinity of the station at 1:46 a.m., said Kurtis Stenderup, a spokesman for the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office.

Law enforcement officials are considering the incident an act of vandalism and will conduct a criminal investigation, Stenderup said in a telephone interview.

California Independent System Operator Corp., which operates the state grid, issued a “flex alert,” or an urgent call for conservation, for the San Jose area, particularly Silicon Valley and Santa Clara. Damaged equipment at the substation near San Jose will limit capacity on the grid, according to an e-mailed statement from the ISO.

“We’re looking for conservation now, from both residents and businesses,” Stephanie McCorkle, a spokeswoman for the operator in Folsom, California, said by telephone.

Silicon Valley, the southern region of the San Francisco Bay in Northern California, is home to six of the 10 biggest U.S. technology companies by sales, including Hewlett-Packard Co. and Intel Corp., and thousands of startups. Companies in the area received 41 percent of U.S. venture investing last year, according to the National Venture Capital Association in Arlington, Virginia.

Oil Spill

PG&E is working with other government agencies to clean up oil spilled from damaged equipment, make repairs and assess damage, Molica said.

“No customers have lost power as a result of this incident,” he said. The utility is urging customers in the area to conserve power through midnight local time, Molica said. The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office is taking the lead in the probe, Molica said.

Law enforcement investigators could not access the site while the oil is being cleaned up, Stenderup said.

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