SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Old Sacramento is preparing for another night in the dark as they deal with the aftermath of a substation explosion that left shops without power.
With no power, most businesses are staying closed, but a handful are making due. At Evangeline's Costumes, the shop is making use of flashlights to stay open.
Despite some creative efforts, the typically busy boardwalk was nearly empty on Thursday.
"Sales just tanked. Foot traffic down here, nobody is coming down right now," said Jon Evans with Warehouse Creative, a recently opened boutique store in the area.
The Sacramento Municipal Utility District said crews are working through the night to restore power by 6 a.m. Friday morning. In between, the utility says efforts to restore power include a planned outage for some 66 residential customers and 112 commercial customers. That outage is planned to start at 1 a.m. and last until 6 a.m. at the latest.
The substation fire brought attention to a 2015 SMUD report saying that the historic substation, known as substation A, was "nearing the end of its useful life and requires replacement."
Six years later, the work to do that was already underway when the facility caught fire.
On the other side of the alleyway behind substation A, crews have already laid electrical conduit and poured the concrete for SMUD's new substation G.
The old brick substation building, which has some signs of scorching from the fire, was part of a history-making system that delivered power from the old Folsom powerhouse to downtown Sacramento.
It was built in the 1890's, but SMUD says the actual electrical parts of substation A date back to the 1950's.
Substations play a critical role in the power grid, connecting neighborhood-level distribution lines with regional-level higher voltage transmission lines.
SMUD's 2015 report pointed out that substation A could not be replaced where it is because the space is too limited.
Asked if it could rule out older components or animals as the cause of the fire, SMUD spokesperson Lindsay VanLaningham said it "cannot rule out or rule in any cause" yet.
"Just because some of the equipment dates back to the 50's doesn’t mean it was testing poorly," VanLaningham added. "If the equipment tested out of spec, we would remove it from service."
Substation G is scheduled to come online in October 2022 and be completed in May 2023.