San Jose: After PG&E tiff and closures, family courthouse restores full power

SAN JOSE — After two months, four generators and three closures — against the backdrop of a quiet clash with PG&E — the Family Justice Center Courthouse has fully restored its electricity service.

Equipment connecting the North First Street courthouse to a PG&E transformer failed March 4, and a string of generators has kept operations going since, albeit with some notable interruptions. Officials announced Wednesday that permanent power has been reestablished.

“With power now restored by PG&E, the Court reaffirms its commitment to serving the community with stability and reliability,” reads a statement from the Santa Clara County Superior Court. “The Court extends gratitude for the patience and understanding shown by downtown San Jose residents, businesses, and organizations for their patience during this difficult situation.”

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After the March 4 equipment failure, the court learned that parts to repair the damage were estimated to take four to six weeks to arrive. As a stopgap, a generator was installed March 7; it experienced a failure that resulted in a 30-minute court closure April 3. Then on April 15, the generator failed again, prompting court officials to fully close the court for the first time and relocate hearings — covering issues including family, domestic violence, gun violence, and drug matters — to nearby courthouses both at the Downtown Superior Court building across the street and the Hall of Justice, about a mile north.

A second generator was installed, but its loud operating noise prompted complaints from surrounding residents and businesses. The court decided to power down the courthouse this past weekend because of the noise, while a third, quieter generator was installed. But it failed early Monday, prompting a half-day court closure and use of a fourth generator.

Amid the scramble to keep the court calendar, judicial administrators revealed Monday that they had been unsuccessful in getting PG&E to put the courthouse on its reconnection calendar, even after the court commissioned repairs that were completed April 20. The court also sent a letter demanding service restoration Monday, to which PG&E replied in a statement that it had “been working with the customer to resolve all outstanding issues, and is committed to getting the customer restored safely and as quickly as possible.”

Two days after the letter and a report by this news organization, the lights were back on.

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