In a year marked by two significant events, 2019 saw the number of major power outages fall slightly and all measurable system reliability numbers came in well below five year averages. A system reliability report released by the Grays Harbor PUD on Monday revealed that the total number of major outages on the utility system (50 or more customers impacted) was down from 296 events in 2018 to 290 events in 2019. While the total number of customers impacted rose from 54,446 to 57,326, the total hours without service dropped from 198,483 to 181,474.
“Once again our system has performed well under tough conditions and our crews have shown themselves to be amongst the best in the business,” said General Manager Dave Ward. “For several years our emphasis has been on system strength and vegetation management and this report tells us that the work is paying off in the form of fewer outages and fewer hours in which our customers were without power.”
The 2019 numbers were significantly impacted by two events: a storm on January 6th that knocked out power to over 27,000 customers from the ocean beaches to East County and a car versus pole accident in Central Park on February 5th that brought down a transmission pole, interrupting power to over 7,100 customers in Central Park and Montesano.
Downed trees and storm events continued to be the main causes of outages, accounting for 76% of power interruptions in 2019. While the number of tree related outages were below the five year average for the second straight year, Ward says it shows the importance of the utility’s tree trimming and mowing cycle.
“We’ve got to keep at it,” said Ward. “Washington is called the Evergreen State for a reason and without regular attention to tree trimming and undergrowth mowing, you can end up in a situation where blowdowns and falling trees can cause outage numbers to rise.”