Avista continues restoration efforts following windstorm Company will provide an update on estimated restoration times after additional assessments are complete.

January 14, 2021

Spokane, Wash. Jan. 14, 2021, 8:45 a.m.: Crews made progress as they worked throughout the night to continue to assess widespread damage and restore outages caused by Wednesday’s significant windstorm. Assessment and restoration efforts continue in the light of day Thursday, as additional damage and outage incidents continue to be uncovered. 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 8:45 a.m. Thursday, approximately 45,667 are without power, with more than 1,600 unique outage incidents. 

All available resources are working the outages, including line crews, 32 contract crews and 19 vegetation management crews. Avista was able to acquire an additional 7 mutual aid crews from utilities outside the area that will arrive today to support the restoration.  

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 in the midst of the restoration efforts, as well as rugged terrain in some areas, adding complexity in assessing the full extent of the damage. The continuing assessments and repairs will be time-consuming. 

Avista will provide an update on estimated restoration times after additional assessments are complete. Aiding in these assessments on Thursday will be helicopter patrols of transmission lines that remain out. These helicopter assessments were challenging on Wednesday due to the duration of the sustained strong winds, and they will provide important information needed to identify estimated restoration times.

“We want to thank our customers for their patience as we work to assess damage, restore power and provide estimated restoration times for all customers who lost power as a result of this unique and challenging storm,” Dennis Vermillion, Avista president and CEO said. “With the extent of the damage, we anticipate some customers will be out of power for multiple days, and we encourage them to prepare for this. We understand this unknown can be challenging and frustrating, and we are committed to getting you this information and restoring your power as quickly and safely as we can.”

Avista is encouraging customers to be prepared for extended outages and 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, and these remain a priority on Thursday. 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 we are working steadily around the clock as quickly and as safely as possible to restore power to all customers. 

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Safety during an outage
We want our 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 also follow Avista’s Facebook and Twitter accounts for updates.

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.

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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.

The Avista logo is a trademark of Avista Corporation.


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