The crane helped a work crew remove a 1960s-era 10.5 million watt bank of transformers and install a 16 million watt replacement. The upgrade is meant to handle customer demand projected to grow overall by 1.3 percent over the next five to seven years, said PG&E spokeswoman Melissa Mooney.
The new transformer bank — similar to another installed there in 2005 — powers parts of Menlo Park, including Sharon Heights, Alameda de las Pulgas to Walsh Road, western Santa Cruz Avenue, Alpine Road and the unincorporated areas of Los Trancos Woods and Vista Verde, Ms. Mooney said.
The upgrade "is not specifically driven by the need for additional capacity" to serve large power-hungry houses, Ms. Mooney said, but then made a plea to anyone planning such a house to let PG&E in on their plans.
"We really need people who are putting up these huge houses, or buying four houses and tearing them down and building one house, to call PG&E and let us know what they're doing," she said.
More electricity generated might seem to mean more carbon dioxide emissions. It's not easily determined, Ms. Mooney said. The impact cannot be calculated since CO2 emissions vary according to how the electricity is generated. Nevertheless, she said, "we're doing everything we can to raise awareness. Global warming and climate change are issues that will affect everyone, regardless of socio-economic standing."
Work on the upgrade was unrelated to the afternoon power outage on Monday, May 7, that dropped power from two to 12 hours for some 2,350 customers in parts of west Atherton, west Menlo Park and Woodside, Ms. Mooney said.