Rolling blackouts planned to continue throughout the week, says Avista

SPOKANE, Wash. — Avista is planning to continue rolling blackouts through the week and possibly the weekend.

Avista held a press conference Tuesday addressing power outages in Spokane, as well as future outages expected in the area.

According to Heather Rosentrater, Avista’s Senior VP of Energy Delivery, four of their transformers had issues Monday due to higher than anticipated demand—roughly 30% more than the transformers were designed to handle.

Rosentrater said those loads coming more quickly than anticipated did not allow for enough time to alert customers. Had they not cut power, outages that only lasted a few hours could’ve been up to a day.

While they do switch substations if one can’t handle the load, Rosentrater stated that as a result of the heatwave, that’s not an option.

“A day that we’re using that additional capacity is really an extreme situation as comparison to how we normally operate.”

On Tuesday, Avista prepared for nine circuits to fail.

These outages affected Northeast and Northwest Spokane, Fairwood, Five Mile, Spokane Valley and a small area in Lewiston. Rosentrater said the company will be checking specifically on Eagle Ridge, which had its power shut off Monday and Tuesday.

Avista later confirmed that outage was to switch the current substation to a temporary one that has a higher capacity, in order to avoid proactive outages in the future.

The last time Spokane saw these kinds of temperatures was in 2015. Avista says Spokane’s growth has caused strain to the system.

Spokane City Council President Breeann Beggs admits neither rolling blackouts nor a day without power are good options.

“The challenge is these 1 hour rolling blackouts, although unfortunate, are so much better than a 24 hour failures. I do have to say, I am in favor of them over our alternative.”

Especially for those less-fortunate, he believes the city and Avista didn’t do enough.

“I don’t think we did the planning for all the thousands and thousands of families that don’t have air conditioning and many of them don’t have a basement.”

Avista says tomorrow, they’re planning on giving customers a more specific range for when they’ll be experiencing blackouts. They hope to rotate through areas. Outages will only be for an hour at a time.

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