July 26, 2014 in City

Avista progress slowed by fallen trees, broken poles

By The Spokesman-Review
Dan Pelle photo

A tree that fell in a storm on Wednesday, July 23, took out utility lines near the corner of Bemis and Crown in Spokane, Washington.
(Full-size photo)

Avista Utilities is struggling to return power to the last of the 1,700 customers without electricity in north Spokane and Deer Park.

Nearly 60 poles were damaged or toppled in Wednesday’s storm. Avista has fixed the main transmission lines and is now dealing with downed lines and broken poles in the neighborhoods, said Laurine Jue, Avista’s senior communications manager.

Sometimes crews can spend eight to ten hours on one repair and only restore power to a dozen or so customers, Jue said. “I’m hoping the customers will understand the magnitude of the effort is has taken to repair the system,” she said.

In Deer Park crews are having to remove trees to get equipment in to make repairs in sometimes treacherous terrain, Jue said. In Spokane some of the broken power poles are in people’s back yards, making it difficult to install new ones. “We’re having to hand dig the holes because we can’t get the equipment in,” Jue said. “It’s just labor intensive and tedious work.”

All Avista crews are on the job and out of area contract crews also are helping, Jue said.

As of noon Saturday nearly 96 percent of the 40,000 customers who originally lost power had it back. Jue said she hoped most of the four percent without power would have the lights on by the end of the day. “We’re working as hard and as fast as we can,” she said.

Meanwhile, Inland Power and Light is reporting more than 700 customers still without power.

Northern Lights is reporting about 1,800 outages mostly in Bonner and Boundary counties.

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