Several significant weather events at the beginning and end of the year led to an increase in the number of power outages for the Grays Harbor PUD in 2017. While the number of major outages fell from 369 in 2016 to 315, the total number of customers impacted jumped from 59,334 in 2016 to 73,337. That total equaled 264,624 hours in which customers were without power, a sharp rise from 2016 totals.
The 2017 numbers were impacted by several large scale events in which power was out for a large numbers of customers. In all, 19 of the major outages recorded impacted 53,666 customers or 73% of the yearly total. Among those was the January 17th downing of eight transmission poles on State Route 105 that knocked out power to all of the South Beach area and the November 13th storm that knocked out power to 8,148 customers in North Grays Harbor, the South Beach and Central Park.
“Living on the Washington coast, we can expect wind storms to have a major impact on our utility system. While 2017 was a tough year, I think it also tells a story about the toughness and dedication of our crews and utility staff,” said Board of Commissioners President Arie Callaghan. “When a storm hit, they worked together to make a plan and then carried it out. In this way, we were able to restore power to our customers as quickly and safely as possible.”
Downed trees, wind and storm impacts continue to be the main causes of power outages in Grays Harbor, resulting in 73% of the 2017 outage total. The most commonly impacted areas were the North and South Shore Roads of Lake Quinault, the Wynoochee Valley and Black Creek Roads near Montesano, and the South Union Road in Elma.
“These numbers emphasize the importance of our capital budget and the need to continue our vegetation management cycle,” said Callaghan. “By putting our resources into strengthening high outage areas and regularly trimming trees and mowing undergrowth near our lines, we reduce the likelihood of major outages and fulfill our responsibility to provide reliable service to our customers.”