Nov. 18, 2015, 8:30 p.m.: Avista crews spent the past 24 hours assessing and beginning repairs to the damage caused by the historic wind storm that struck eastern Washington and Northern Idaho beginning Tuesday afternoon. At this time, there are about 121,000 customers without power, resulting from more than 4,500 active outages. This is roughly one-third of Avista’s electric customers. At the height of the storm, nearly 180,000 customers were impacted by the destruction the wind storm caused, and roughly one-third of those – 60,000 in Spokane County – have had power restored so far. It is expected that it will take three to five days for all Avista customers to have their power restored.
As Avista rebuilds from the most devastating natural disaster the utility has faced in its 126-year history, assistance has been requested from utilities from outside of the region. Along with Avista’s 35 crews, 13 crews are coming from Pacific Gas and Electric in California, three from the Bonneville Power Administration and two from NV Energy in Reno, Nevada to assist with restoration efforts.
To understand the magnitude of the damage, at the height of the storm approximately 180,000 Avista customers were without power, 42 major transmission lines were taken down and 23 substations were also out of service. Avista’s made tremendous progress today. We expect all major transmission lines and effected substations to be repaired by Thursday evening. But that’s just the foundation of the electric system. Crews must repair, rebuild and inspect distribution lines – those that bring power to your neighborhood – to assure they are free of hazards before they can be re-energized and power can be restored to customers. In Spokane County, Avista has about 700 miles of electric distribution lines.
Here’s how restoration efforts will continue to proceed:
· Assessment teams and crews are first focusing on rebuilding the remaining transmission lines and substations. These major transmission lines and substations must be in working order before any distribution work can be effective.
· Transmission and substations impacting critical customers are our top priority – these include entities that serve critical community infrastructure, such as hospitals, schools, police and fire operations.
· Crews will then work to restore power to those areas with the densest populations and work out along distribution lines to less populated areas.
· Distribution line repairs will be made starting at the substations, with crews making repairs to each distribution line – one section at a time.
· As each section is fully repaired, it can be safely energized.
· Because of the extent of damage from trees and downed power lines – Avista is taking extra precautions to ensure that the power lines are safe to re-energize. This may require physically walking the line to make sure it’s clear of any tree branches or other debris.
Avista and the assisting mutual aid crews will work around the clock until full restoration of power to all customers has occurred. As they undertake this effort – the safety of the community and their employees will be the top priority.
Important Safety Note: As clean-up begins this morning, stay clear of fallen trees and other objects that may have downed power lines hidden among the debris. These lines could still be energized and cause extreme injury if contact is made.
The next media update is planned for 4:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015.
Safety during a power outage
Avista suggests customers take the following steps during an outage:
Turn off all the appliances that were on before the power went out.
Unplug electronic equipment, including computers.
Leave a light or radio on as an alert when power has been restored.
Help Avista crews working in a neighborhood know which homes have power by turning on the front porch light
If you see a downed power line, stay away. Treat all power lines as if they are carrying electrical current, and never touch or move one.
Do not wire an emergency generator into a home’s electrical system, unless there is a disconnect switch to separate generated power from Avista’s distribution system. Back feed into power lines could injure or kill a lineman working to get electricity restored.
Use a generator only to run specific appliances and locate it outside so poisonous carbon monoxide fumes do not enter the home.
Reporting an outage
Customers who experience a power outage are encouraged to report it online or through their mobile device at www.avistautilities.com or by calling (800) 227-9187. Updated outage status information is also available on Avista’s Website, and information can be found on Avista’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/avistautilities) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/avistautilities) pages.
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