Serving Franklin County, WA

Avista changes may lead to power outages

Company: Have emergency supplies ready

SPOKANE — Ratepayers who purchase electricity from Avista may have their power turned off on windy, hot summer days when utility officials deem fire danger high.

According to company officials, Avista’s so-called “Public Safety Power Shutoff” plan is in response to summer conditions in Eastern Washington.

When high winds are forecast, company employees may increase sensitivity on power lines, officials said. The increased sensitivity could lead to more and prolonged power outages.

Officials said ratepayers will be notified if the sensitivity of the power line monitoring system is increased.

If the power is off, company crews will physically check power lines to make sure tree branches and other objects are not touching them. They’ll also make sure power lines are intact.

“This can require more time to restore service,” a June 26 press release said.

The company is further changing the way it re-energizes lines when power is shut off during weather conducive to wildfire growth.

Previously, Avista’s system automatically tried several times to restore power when a problem was detected. Under its new procedures, that won’t happen.

Instead, Avista crews will have to “determine it’s safe” before power is restored.

The company is recommending ratepayers be prepared for outages by having flashlights, portable chargers and “a few days’ supply of shelf-stable food and water” readily available.

The changes are a response to “increasing wildfire danger in the region,” the release said. “These temporary changes are being made to decrease the potential for wildfires that could

occur when re-energizing a power line.”

Author Bio

Roger Harnack, Publisher

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Roger Harnack is the co-owner/publisher of Free Press Publishing. Having grown up Benton City, Roger is an award-winning journalist, photographer, editor and publisher. He's one of only two editorial/commentary writers from Washington state to ever receive the international Golden Quill. Roger is dedicated to the preservation of local media, and the voice it retains for Eastern Washington.


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