Friday, June 6, 2014

Power outage may have been ‘vandalism’

17,000 Wood River Valley residents in the dark for about an hour


By AMY BUSEK
Express Staff Writer

Customers walk past a boarded-up meat refrigerator at Albertsons grocery store in Hailey on Wednesday. Photo by Roland Lane

By AMY BUSEK
Express Staff Writer

    A far-ranging power outage Wednesday afternoon may have been caused by a transmission line weakened by a gunshot, Idaho Power reported.
    The outage occurred while power was being routed through a transmission line north of Shoshone while a second, redundant, line was undergoing maintenance, the company stated.
    The entire Wood River Valley and south as far as Shoshone, west to Fairfield and east to Carey lost power at 2:40 p.m.
    Lynette Berriochoa, Idaho Power communications leader, said the outage could have been a deliberate act of vandalism.
    “After 13 hours of repairs overnight to a damaged line northeast of Shoshone, Idaho Power crews discovered that the broken wire that fell to the ground may have been weakened by a gunshot,” Berriochoa said. “It’s rare, but we have seen this kind of unfortunate vandalism before. It’s very costly and a huge inconvenience.”
    An estimated 17,000 people were without power for about an hour.
    The Hagerman-Moonstone Ranch-Hailey line was out of service when there was, coincidentally, a “fault in the system” in another line running north from Shoshone. That second line was handling all the electricity for the Wood River Valley, Berriochoa said.
    “Electricity is hot, and that additional electric load heated up the line to the point where the damaged section melted and fell to the ground, taking the other wires and cross-arms with it,” she said.
    The gunshot could have occurred several days or weeks ago, she said, and the line held together until the extra load of electricity caused the line to fizzle.
    The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office and Idaho State Police are investigating the incident, which required crews to work through the night to restore the line.




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