Enormous areas of Los Angeles and neighboring communities were thrown into near chaos Monday by a Los Angeles Department of Water & Power blackout that cut power to 2 million people, including those in neighboring Glendale and Burbank. The problem began at 12:37 p.m. when LADWP workers installing monitoring equipment at a San Fernando Valley electrical station severed wires, causing a short and a cascading shutdown of the city of Los Angeles' grid. \t Power was largely restored by 2 p.m. Meanwhile, the California Independent System Operator said that LADWP did not notify it about the outage until after power had been restored. Although the department is not part of the CAISO control area, the grid operator and the California Energy Commission have been seeking closer communication and cooperation on transmission issues with LADWP and other municipal power agencies. California Public Utilities Commission president Mike Peevey blamed the blackout on the "balkanization of the grid." He said that if LADWP had been part of the larger CAISO control area, the problem wouldn't have occurred or would have been minimized. LADWP has never been part of the larger state grid. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District and the Western Area Power Administration withdrew from CAISO territory. Now, the Turlock Irrigation District intends to create its own control area. \t When the wire was severed, a voltage drop occurred. It triggered a shutdown of another substation and then three power plants, said Randy Howard, LADWP executive assistant. Initially, 68,000 customers were affected, he said, but the outages spread throughout large areas of the city. It also blacked out 52,000 Burbank Water & Power customers and almost 40,000 Glendale Water & Power customers, according to news accounts. Those systems are interconnected to the LADWP system. Ron Deaton, LADWP general manager, stood in front of the department's headquarters and explained to television reporters that the city's electrical system responded just the way it was supposed to, shutting down in order to prevent overloads that could cause widespread damage. By 4 p.m., power had been fully restored. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said that it would take time for the city to get back to normal because city employees would have to manually reset most of the 4,300 traffic lights in L.A. This week's blackout follows rolling blackouts triggered August 25 by the failure of an LADWP electrical station at the end of the 500 kV Pacific DC Intertie. The line brings hydropower from Oregon to Southern California (<i>Circuit<\/i>, Sept. 2, 2005). In yet another mishap this week, a Los Angeles Department of Water & Power contractor ruptured a landfill gas pipeline serving a renewable power facility, causing a blast that damaged a backhoe and nearby cars. The gas line brings methane from the Bradley Landfill in the San Fernando Valley to a generating plant operated by Penrose Gas Conversion. Last month, the department chose the company for a long-term power contract under its renewables portfolio standard (<i>Circuit<\/i>, Aug. 26, 2005). The incident triggered evacuation of the department's Truesdale training facility. The contractor ruptured the gas line while digging a trench to upgrade the training facility's sewer line. \t Landfill operator Waste Management quickly shut off the gas line as the Los Angeles Fire Department secured the area. LADWP employees and a hazardous materials team cleaned up the site.