Avista crews continue to make steady progress overnight Saturday Line crews focus their efforts on remaining areas without power Sunday
Spokane, Wash. Jan. 17, 2021, 10:15 a.m.: Sunday marks the fifth day of around the clock restoration efforts in the wake of Wednesday’s historic windstorm that matched wind speeds seen in 2015. As power is restored across Avista’s service territory, crews focus their efforts on the areas that continue to be impacted by outages.
Avista crews continue to wade through heavily forested and challenging terrain in Kootenai and Shoshone counties, navigating snow, downed trees, downed power poles, and debris across areas still without power. Crews are facing challenges in Spokane County accessing backyards with equipment with no vehicle access.
With more than 500 incidents remaining, there are now fewer customers associated with each incident, which can slow overall progress. Fortunately, with the additional resource support Avista’s received, crews continue at a consistent pace to restore the remaining customers as quickly and safely as possible.
Restoration efforts will continue until every customer has power restored. The majority of customers are expected to have power by Sunday evening. In some of the areas that are more difficult to access, customers may see outages extend into Monday.
Avista remains well-staffed, with the help of contract and mutual aid crews. Some crews have traveled from as far as Sacramento to support the restoration of Avista’s customers.
As of 10:15 a.m. Sunday, approximately 8,074 customers are without power, with more than 500 unique outage incidents. Approximately 87% of customers have been restored. Avista is fully staffed with 60 line crews, 36 contract crews, 19 vegetation management crews and 20 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.
“As we enter day five of our all-hands-on-deck restoration effort in the wake of Wednesday’s windstorm, I want to acknowledge the tremendous support we’ve received from our communities,” said Dennis Vermillion, President and CEO of Avista. “We are grateful for your patience, encouragement and outreach. We plan and prepare for events such as this, but each storm is unique and you can never fully predict the extent of the damage that will occur. Restoring service to those customers who are still without power is our priority. We’re proud of our Avista, contract and mutual aid crews as well as the support staff that has worked steadily since Wednesday.”
Estimated restoration times are subject to change and available on our outage map located at myavista.com/outage.
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.
Ongoing restoration process
TOnce 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 to restore power.
What customers can do
Customers could see their neighbors power restored while they are still without power. This is common and we encourage those with power to turn their porch light on. Turning a light on serves as a signal to our crews that your power has been restored which allows them to move through the area faster.
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.
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.
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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