Christmas Eve power outage occurred in the same location as two days prior, OPALCO says

Posted December 28, 2022 at 10:11 am by

OPALCO crew making repairs in the snow on Dec. 23 — Contributed photo

OPALCO shares details about the main­land pow­er deliv­ery issues that caused the all-coun­ty pow­er out­age on Christ­mas Eve.

At 8:30 a.m. on Sat­ur­day, Dec. 24, all of San Juan Coun­ty lost pow­er again – only a day after after expe­ri­enc­ing anoth­er coun­ty-wide out­age. An OPALCO engi­neer hap­pened to be dri­ving through Ana­cortes and saw a flash as equip­ment failed on the trans­mis­sion feed that serves San Juan Coun­ty. He stopped to doc­u­ment and report the dam­age to the equip­ment and was able to get a video of the equip­ment fail­ing from a neigh­bor. This was the same pow­er pole where equip­ment fail­ure caused the pre­vi­ous pow­er out­age on Dec. 22–23.

By 2:40 p.m., Puget Sound Ener­gy had com­plet­ed the repairs on the trans­mis­sion line. They replaced two jumpers and an insu­la­tor, in addi­tion to the jumper they replaced on Dec. 23. By 5:30 pm, every­one in San Juan Coun­ty had their pow­er ful­ly restored.

OPALCO has noticed mis­in­for­ma­tion being spread about the cause of the recent out­ages. Please get your infor­ma­tion direct­ly from OPALCO as oth­er sources can pro­vide mis­lead­ing or inac­cu­rate infor­ma­tion. OPALCO pro­vides reg­u­lar updates on its web­site, on the phone sys­tem at 360–376-3500, and on Face­book and Twit­ter. Mem­bers can even sign up for noti­fi­ca­tions on their loca­tion through SmartHub.

The cause of an out­age is dif­fi­cult to com­mu­ni­cate while the crews are in the field mak­ing repairs under extreme­ly chal­leng­ing con­di­tions. OPALCO is still inves­ti­gat­ing all the issues relat­ed to the out­ages that occurred last week. Because the equip­ment was on trans­mis­sion lines oper­at­ed by PSE, OPALCO will need to get the infor­ma­tion from them first. OPALCO main­tains strict pro­to­cols fol­low­ing an out­age to doc­u­ment and fol­low-up on any fur­ther main­te­nance need­ed on the system.

As the recent coun­ty-wide out­ages demon­strat­ed, OPAL­CO’s trans­mis­sion sys­tem is depen­dent on main­land facil­i­ties owned and oper­at­ed by PSE and Bon­neville Pow­er Admin­is­tra­tion. Work­ing with this sys­tem, OPALCO main­tained a reli­a­bil­i­ty rat­ing of 99.87% in 2021. When out­ages occur, OPALCO works close­ly with PSE and BPA to get the sys­tem back up and run­ning. How­ev­er, dur­ing a major storm event like we expe­ri­enced last week, PSE had hun­dreds of thou­sands of con­sumers out of pow­er and it took longer than expect­ed to get our lines repaired.

OPALCO would like to have a redun­dant trans­mis­sion line for emer­gency dis­rup­tions and have inves­ti­gat­ed a new over­head trans­mis­sion line through Ana­cortes, as well as a new sub­ma­rine cable to the main­land. Both projects would cost in the hun­dreds of mil­lions and require acqui­si­tion of ease­ments and land in devel­oped res­i­den­tial areas. As a small non-prof­it co-op, OPALCO is seek­ing grants for major projects such as these to pro­tect rate pay­er affordability.

OPALCO appre­ci­ates mem­bers’ patience dur­ing these dif­fi­cult times. OPALCO is incred­i­bly grate­ful to our tal­ent­ed line crew and their com­mit­ment to keep­ing our lights on. The team also appre­ci­at­ed all the emails and notes of grat­i­tude that came pour­ing in – even as peo­ple were still wait­ing for their pow­er to return.

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