BAKERSFIELD - Homeowners in a southwest Bakersfield neighborhood are still waiting to hear what Pacific Gas and Electric is going to do about a recent power surge. Last week, we reported the electrical problems the neighbors said they had after the August 19th jolt. Many appliances stopped working, fuses were fried, and they say more issues keep popping up.
PG&E told one customer lightning caused the surge. But, when 17 News asked them about it last week, they said they were still looking into the cause, and Friday they said it was not lightning-related.
Now, some neighbors say even though PG&E hasn't admitted it, they know the cause and the surge was the utility's mistake.
Clarissa Wilstead told 17 News her washer and dryer recently stopped working and a hired repairman told her they burnt up in last month's power surge.
"And he, the circuit boards are fried and it was actually a fire hazard. The washer, he doesn't even want to touch," said Wilstead.
Last week, Wilstead showed us a letter from PG&E she received following the surge and after filing a claim. It blamed a lighting strike at a substation, releasing it of responsibility for $5,000 in damages to Wilstead's electronics, plus other claims filed by neighbors. PG&E recanted and now says lightning isn't to blame, but won't confirm what is. But, Wilstead says she's spoken with a PG&E employee and she does know the cause.
"He said he was working on the problem and he lives in this neighborhood. And, he said there was no lightning. A transmission line hit the distribution line. It was 100 percent PG&E's fault," said Wilstead.
"I've heard that, but I don't know for sure if that's what happened. I know that, that is something that they are looking into. It would explain, I think, some of the damage that we've seen," said Denny Boyles, PG&E spokesperson.
Boyles said even if it is the cause, the claims department would determine if it was the utility's error.
"Going into the second week of the school year, we were still having sporadic issues. But, at its worst we had half of our school impacted," said Steve Duke, Principal of Quailwood Elementary School.
Duke says the district has also been in contact with PG&E after the surge. Random classrooms lost power and maintenance crews scrambled to fix fuses and power packs.
"For a day or so, things would be fine and then someone would tip over the domino and then we would be back to where we were before," said Duke.
Duke says damages total about a grand, plus extra maintenance work. But now, this neighborhood waits to see what's next to fizzle out because of the surge and what PG&E will do about it, hoping their next expense isn't an attorney.
"And, I don't want to go that route. But, I feel like my hands are being tied and if something doesn't happen, I feel like we are going to have to go that route," said Wilstead.
Wilstead says PG&E did call her Thursday evening and asked for her patience and three to four more business days to get back to her.