Treasure Island Power Grid Renovations Promised by 2021

The San Francisco neighborhood has gone through years of constant blackouts.

Upgrades to Treasure Island’s decades-old infrastructure are well underway, promising aid to current residents who have endured years of rolling blackouts.

“Power outages have plagued Treasure Island residents for years, and with shelter-in-place resulting in more people staying at home for longer periods, power reliability is more vital than ever,” said Supervisor Matt Haney in a press release.

Treasure Island might be one of San Francisco’s most neglected neighborhoods. A former navy base, this literal and metaphorical island just off the Bay Bridge is home to low-income, Black and Latinx communities who have been lobbying for school lunch sites, UberEats deliveries, and above all, consistent electricity during the pandemic.

When the power goes out, so does the WiFi and cell connection, a troubling predicament as the pandemic calls for people to work or study from home. Sometimes, according to residents, constant blackouts lead to sewage backups (some plumbing systems require power to pump water) and fried expensive electronics. 

Renovations to Treasure Island’s power grids involve replacing outdated equipment by January of 2021 and installing fault indicators and reclosers this summer. Reclosers will reduce the chances of “bird strikes or fallen tree limbs” from causing power outages, and fault indicators will help the island find the source of power grid issues more quickly.

In a press release, TIDA Director Robert Beck said that these summer installations will “improve system reliability” in the near-term while the outdated equipment is being replaced.

The island’s current electrical infrastructure is inherited from the Navy, and is estimated to be 40 to 50 years old. The typical lifespan for that equipment is only 25 to 30 years. These renovations are a part of the neighborhood’s ongoing redevelopment plan, which includes the construction of 8,000 homes, a project current residents have mixed feelings about.

Grace Z. Li is a staff writer for SF Weekly. You can reach her at gli@sfweekly.com or follow her on Twitter @gracezhali.

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