Avista crews remain focused on restoring power following windstorm Safety is top priority as vegetation and rough terrain add challenges in some areas
Spokane, Wash. Jan. 16, 2021, 10:00 a.m.: For more than three days, Avista crews have been working non-stop to restore power to the more than 70,000 customers originally impacted by Wednesday’s windstorm. With the majority of assessments complete estimated restoration times are now available for most customers. Crews continue to work around the clock to restore power as quickly and safely as possible. Avista remains well-staffed, with contract and mutual aid crews who have traveled from across Washington State as well as Idaho, Oregon, and California to assist in the restoration efforts.
As of 10 a.m. Saturday, approximately 16,659 customers are without power, with more than 857 unique outage incidents. Approximately 75% of customers have been restored. Saturday, all available resources continue working to restore customer outages, including over 60 Avista line crews, 29 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.
Wednesday’s windstorm caused widespread damage to Avista’s infrastructure. The moisture on the ground caused by the recent rain combined with strong winds caused trees and vegetation to come into contact with power lines and poles, pulling them to the ground. Once the wind stopped blowing, Avista crews patrolled hundreds of miles of line navigating treacherous terrain and fallen trees and debris. They patrolled by foot, vehicle and helicopter to assess the damage in hopes of quickly restoring power to customers.
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. As power is restored throughout Avista’s service territory crews will be reassigned to support the remaining restoration efforts until every customer has their power restored. Given the magnitude of devastation in certain areas, we now know some customers may not have power until Sunday.
Avista crews will press forward, continuing to work through the weekend. The target is to restore power to the majority of our customers by Sunday at 6 p.m. In some of the hardest hit areas customers may see outages extended into Monday.
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
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 to restore power.
What customers can do
Customers could see their neighbors power restored while you 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.
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