Last January, Mark Conners compiled a list of six power outages on Treasure Island between mid-November and mid-December 2011, ranging from 30 minutes to seven hours in duration.

Two resulted from a failed transformer, one from a power shutdown at the Port of Oakland, two were due to unknown causes and others were caused by a Canadian goose and a fallen tree, according to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

Conners, 52, who lives on Treasure Island, published the list in a newsletter put out by the Good Neighbors of Treasure and Yerba Buena Islands, a community group. To him, electrical outages are a persistent nuisance on the 535-acre Treasure Island.

“It seems that since November last year, we’ve had a large number of power outages, more than you would expect from an area like this,” he said. “It seems to have an old infrastructure. We are having a hard time finding out what the long term plan is here.”

On Tuesday, a seagull flying into a power line was blamed for another brief outage there.
But the utilities commission, which is responsible for maintaining the island’s power structure, points out that the U.S. Navy still technically owns Treasure Island and does not have to meet local electrical codes during the countdown to the transfer of the land to the city of San Francisco this fall.

“This is their property. They own the electrical infrastructure,” said Charles Sheehan, communications manager for the SFPUC.

Sheehan said some parts of the power system on Treasure Island date back to the 1940s and other parts were renovated in the 1960s and 1970s.

“Regardless of where you are there, the electrical infrastructure there is old,” he said, adding that some of the utility wires on Treasure Island are 25 to 40 years old and aren’t built to last much longer than that.

The SFPUC currently trims trees on Treasure Island that might get in the way of power lines, surveys transformers and pole lines and maintains a 24-hour repair crew available to identify problems and restore power when needed, Sheehan said.

Once the Navy formally transfers the island property, the city’s plan is for the Treasure Island Community Development LLC to spend millions of dollars on improvements, including to utility systems.

The developer’s plans call for building housing on Treasure Island for about 19,000 residents

But the transfer can’t come soon enough for some island dwellers, who complain about the recurring power outages.

“I remember one two or three weeks ago,” said Carrie Shaw, 20, of Oakland, who works as a waitress at a cafe on the island. “There was one in the morning, then in the afternoon. The kitchen was pitch black. We thought we could handle everything, but the cash register was out so we had to write everything up by hand and use a calculator.”

Jeff Burbank, Bay City News

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