BPA outage leaves south county dark

<p>IHS student Keegan Benenati takes a manual count of students having hot lunch Thursday during the blackout.</p>

LONG BEACH — A downed Bonneville Power Administration transmission line left Naselle and the Long Beach Peninsula dark for up to six and a half hours Thursday morning.

Pacific County PUD manager Doug Miller said the outage started about 6:30 a.m. It knocked out power to the Menlo, Francis and Lebam area of the Willapa Valley as well as Naselle and the Peninsula.

BPA determined the problem was south of the Valley Oxbow substation, and the PUD was able to restore power to North Pacific County relatively quickly, Miller said.

“Early (Thursday) morning something knocked one of their wires down at what they call circuit mile post 14 … which happens to be between our Valley substation and Naselle,” he said.

The center line was down, Miller said.

“Which is interesting, because normally a tree falls on one of the outside phases as opposed to the center ones,” he said. BPA did not offer the PUD an explanation for why the line failed. It was a beautiful autumn day, with little wind.

BPA completed the work and re-energized the line about 12:30, he said. The PUD had to do some distribution work to finish restoring power after that, Miller said.

Naselle and the Peninsula are served from an additional BPA transmission line, but that line was out of action.

“It happened that Bonneville took a scheduled outage of the line that comes from Wahkiakum County,” Miller said. “So Naselle and the Long Beach Peninsula (were) sole sourced from the line that comes from Chehalis.”

In a discussion at the Chinook Observer last Tuesday, Miller said that maintaining low rates and high reliability are PUD’s top priorities. He said the extension of power service along the north side of Willapa Bay to Tokeland is, in part, motivated by a plan to link Pacific County to an electricity-supply line that serves southwest Grays Harbor County. This would provide an additional backup power supply for north Pacific County.

The long outage served as a kind of dry run for potential storm-related darkness this winter, with businesses and homeowners starting back-up generators to power freezers, computers and other equipment.

In a remainder of the massive inconvenience of the multiple-day blackout that followed the 2007 typhoon, bank ATMs were unavailable for cash withdrawals, debit cards didn’t works and gasoline was in short supply.

Wanting to make sure that children were fed and had places to go while parents endeavored to work, local schools remained open.

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