Avista continues electric outage restoration following windstorm Additional crew resources aiding restoration efforts
Spokane, Wash. Jan. 15, 2021, 11:45 a.m.: Clear skies and calm weather along with the addition of contract and mutual aid crews from other utilities aided assessment and restoration efforts throughout the day and overnight Thursday. Crews are making progress and will continue to work around the clock until all customers who lost power in Wednesday’s storm are restored. At the peak of the storm, the windstorm matched the speeds of the historic 2015 storm, and approximately 70,000 Avista electric customers were without power. As of 11:30 a.m. Friday, approximately 25,833 customers are without power, with more than 1,100 unique outage incidents.
Friday, all available resources continue working to restore customer outages, including over 60 Avista line crews, 30 contract crews, 19 vegetation management crews and 14 mutual aid crews from utilities outside the area, for a total of over 400 people working directly on outage restoration. Dozens more Avista employees across the Company are also supporting the restoration effort.
“We are grateful for our customers’ patience as we work to restore power safely and quickly in the wake of Wednesday’s windstorm,” said Dennis Vermillion, President and CEO of Avista. “Our assessment work is nearly complete and the damage to our system remains significant. We continue to remove vegetation from our transmission and distribution lines and replace broken power poles. Our crews have made significant progress over the last two days and we know there is still work to be done as crews and support staff work around the clock and through the weekend. We’re grateful for our utility partners who have provided crews to help restore our customers.”
The storm caused damage to both the transmission and distribution systems, with the primary damage involving trees coming into contact with lines and bringing wires down. Crews continue to navigate downed trees and debris across significant territory, at times rugged and difficult to reach, adding complexity in restoration. The remaining repairs will be time-consuming with hundreds of poles and miles of wire impacted across the system. One power pole can take up to 8 hours to replace.
The majority of initial assessments were completed Thursday, aided by helicopter patrols that flew 151 miles of transmission lines. This helped inform estimated restoration times, which have been provided by service or geographic area. These estimated restoration times are not specific to individual customer homes or businesses, and actual restoration times may be shorter or longer. As additional information comes in from crews in the field, estimated restoration times will be updated. Customers within these areas can use these estimated restoration times as a guide.
Avista encourages customers to make arrangements for resources as needed. Spokane County Emergency Management can provide help for the following situations:
• If a home is severely damaged and the individual/family needs help, is unable to do the work themselves and does not have insurance.
• If a home is uninhabitable and the individual/family needs shelter.
• If an individual needs power due to medical reasons.
For assistance, customers in the city of Spokane can call 311 and customers in Spokane County can call 509-755-CITY (2489) 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. daily.
Avista’s restoration process and approach
To restore power, Avista focuses on restoring power to critical infrastructure first, such as transmission lines and substations, and emergency facilities like hospitals. These restoration efforts may not be as visible to customers given the location of this infrastructure across Avista’s system. Once critical customers and transmission lines are restored, crews then work to make repairs that will restore power along impacted distribution feeder lines to a larger number of customers. This will leave some customers without power while their neighbors have been restored. Avista crews will come back through to restore individual outages in neighborhoods, which means customers may see service people in their neighborhoods multiple times. While customers may not always see the restoration efforts, they can be assured that crews are
working steadily around the clock as quickly and as safely as possible to restore power to all customers.
Safety during an outage
Avista wants its customers to stay safe. With this storm, trees have brought a significant amount of power lines down. Customers should treat all power lines as if they are energized. Customers should stay away from any downed power lines, not attempt to remove limbs from downed or sagging power lines, and should not drive over power lines. If customers see a downed power line, they should call 911 immediately and then Avista at (800) 227-9187 to report its location.
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.
• 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. Backfeed 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.
What customers can do
Customers can report a power outage online or through their mobile device at www.myavista.com/outage or by calling (800) 227-9187. They can also download the mobile app for reporting. Registered customers can also text OUT to AVISTA (284-782) or STAT to get current status.
To register, text REG to AVISTA (284-782). The phone number must match the number on the account.
Updated outage status information, including estimated restoration times, when known, is also available on the outage map.
Customers can aid in the restoration process by checking their service equipment for needed repairs. All of these repairs need to be made by a licensed electrician before we can safely restore power to the home. If a customer’s home sustained damage during this storm, the overhead mast may need attention and repair. The mast is usually located on the roof, where electric service connects from the power pole to the home. Customers should look for an overhead mast that is bent and pulled away from the house, causing a wire to hang, or to see if the bent mast broke the fitting where the wire connects to the electric meter. Customers should also look to see if they have a broken meter fitting that caused an arc or burned meter socket.
To find a licensed, bonded and insured electrician, customers can visit www.myavista.com/dealer-search.
About Avista Utilities
Avista Utilities is involved in the production, transmission and distribution of energy. We provide energy services and electricity to 395,000 customers and natural gas to 364,000 customers in a service territory that covers 30,000 square miles in eastern Washington, northern Idaho and parts of southern and eastern Oregon, with a population of 1.6 million. Avista Utilities is an operating division of Avista Corp. (NYSE: AVA). For more information, please visit www.myavista.com.
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