PUD restores power after outages

Posted 10/16/19

The Jefferson County Public Utility District responded to widespread power outages across East Jefferson County two days in a row, for reasons related to the season.

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PUD restores power after outages

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The Jefferson County Public Utility District responded to widespread power outages across East Jefferson County two days in a row, for reasons related to the season.

On Oct. 8 at 12:29 a.m., the PUD’s Facebook and Twitter accounts reported “a large outage” affecting Port Townsend and the Discovery Bay area, which resulted in approximately 5,900 customers being out of power.

By 1:27 a.m., the PUD’s social media accounts reported that crews had found that the cause of the transmission outage was a wind storm, and they had begun re-energizing substations.

At the time, the PUD expressed the hope to have the majority of its customers back on within the next hour, and subsequently reported that electricity had been restored to Morgan Hill at 1:45 a.m., and to Gardiner at 2:32 a.m.

Nonetheless, it took until 3:50 a.m. for the PUD to confirm that power had been restored to Egg & I Road, and 7:29 a.m. until it reported that “all known outages have been restored.”

The morning of Oct. 9 saw a similar scenario play out on a much smaller scale, as the PUD reported on its Facebook and Twitter accounts at 7:37 a.m. that it had another “large outage,” this time from Cape George “all the way down” Hastings Avenue into Port Townsend, leaving approximately 1900 customers without power.

By 8:16 a.m., the PUD’s social media accounts reported that roughly 800 customers had been restored to power, but crews were still working to restore the power of approximately 1,015 customers, and by 9:29 a.m., the PUD repeated the previous day’s message that “all known outages have been restored.”

PUD Communications Manager Will O’Donnell elaborated on the Oct. 9 outage, which he explained was caused by “the sudden dip in temperature,” paired with a substation that was offline for repairs and upgrades.

“Our substation crew has been working on the Hastings substation in Port Townsend for the last couple of weeks,” O’Donnell said. “When they work on a substation, they power it down completely.”

Ironically, the ultimate goal of adding new switching capacity to the Hastings substation is to allow crews to redirect the transmission of power in an outage, improving restoration times and increasing reliability.

Similar work was done on the Port Ludlow substation this summer.

“Generally, we only power down substations when the weather is warm, because when the weather is warm, people use less power,” O’Donnell said. “When the weather gets cold, power usage goes up — way up.”

On the morning of Oct. 9, temperatures dropped below freezing, and PUD customers turned on their electric heat “en masse,” according to O’Donnell.

“The rapid jump in demand exceeded our temporarily reduced capacity, tripping a re-closer — which is akin to a circuit breaker — that caused the outage,” O’Donnell said. “Luckily, the crew was able to reconfigure the flow of electricity, and bring back power to all the customers that lost it.”

As a result, though East Jefferson County had even colder weather on the morning of Oct. 10, no one lost power at that time, thanks to the temporary reconfiguration.

O’Donnell added that work on the Hastings substation would finish up during the week of Oct. 14-18.

“And then, we will be at full capacity to deal with all cold weather electricity demand,” O’Donnell said. “At least, until the next big wind storm comes.”

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