Rocky Mountain Power crews working around the clock restore power after hurricane-strength winds caused extensive service outages

September 10, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — With additional repair crews for partner utilities from Iowa and Nevada, Rocky Mountain Power continued the non-stop work to restore service to customers after hurricane-strength winds – in excess of 110 mph in some areas – ripped through areas of Utah, Wyoming and Idaho beginning early Tuesday, Sept. 8.

Company officials noted the progress the company has made in restoring most of the customers to service in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho. Updated information shows about 53,000 customers at this hour awaiting restoration of service, down from a total of 195,000 who were affected at the height of the event. The customer count is changing steadily. The most current numbers and general areas are available on the company’s outage page:

https://www.rockymountainpower.net/outages-safety.html

While the majority of customers were restored to service Thursday, the localized damage and nature of the repairs has been extensive. Even with additional personnel devoted to the effort, some customers may be without power into the weekend. Repairs will continue steadily until service to all customers is restored. The company is acutely aware of how difficult it is for those who have been without service, and thanks them for their continued patience.

This storm presented the company with an unprecedented challenge because it affected large numbers of customers across three states. In managing such a widespread event, the following personnel were involved in Utah:

  • 268 operations employees, including line crews, managers, engineers and estimators who evaluated field conditions to coordinate jobs and materials.
  • 75 support personnel, including dispatchers who operate the network in communication with repair crews; operations command employees, who coordinate the repair works, and external communications to the public and elected officials.
  • 150 to 180 customer service representatives, responding to customer calls at the height of the event.

Additional personnel from partner utilities in Iowa and Nevada were added Thursday, involving some 70 individuals:

  • 40 mutual assistance crews supporting work in the Salt Lake Valley.
  • 23 mutual assistance crews supporting Northern Utah.

Since the wind storm began in the early morning hours of Tuesday, Sept. 8, crews began by repairing damage in substations and to the power lines that connect the substations. Once those backbone repairs on the system were completed, line workers could concentrate efforts on local damage in neighborhoods Wednesday.

As the company focuses on more localized areas of damage, it is important to note that the work becomes more labor-intensive. Earlier, repairs to substations and main circuits could restore a thousand customers at a time, whereas each repair job in later stages typically restores far fewer customers, so the company asks customers for continued patience as crews work their way to the final restoration of service. The good news is, with the help of the additional line crews, that work will go faster.

Customers should also be aware of damage to customer-owned equipment that can occur during storms like these. While their electric meter is company property, the meter base, and the overhead service mast on the home belongs to the homeowner. If damaged, this must be repaired by a qualified electrician hired by the homeowner.

More information and a diagram about this are available on the company’s website: https://www.rockymountainpower.net/outages-safety/storm-emergency-preparedness.html

Rocky Mountain Power encourages all customers to follow the advice of state and county emergency management officials, and be prepared with adequate food, water, back-up batteries, power banks etc., in case of loss of essential public services for up to 72 hours.

The company reminds customers to treat all downed wires as live and dangerous. Customers should avoid both downed trees and powerlines as well as keep pets far away from those areas.

Regarding tree clearing from power lines, power company crews will clear trees from power lines to restore service and make conditions safe, but complete removal of the remainder of downed trees and branches is the responsibility of homeowners. Customers should also contact their municipal officials to see if there is assistance being offered on tree removal.

You can also view the Rocky Mountain Power outage map at rockymountainpower.net/outages.