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Lightning causes BPA outage; summer peak record set

Monday - July 12, 2021 12:00pm

Summer thunderstorms on July 7 caused a widespread outage and power conservation requests due to Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) maintenance and restoration policies during potential wildfire conditions.

Okanogan County PUD is served via four major transmission lines into the county – one from Douglas County PUD (Well Dam) and three from BPA. BPA was performing normal maintenance on one of their three transmission lines, when it’s assumed lightning struck a second BPA line. All customers north of Okanogan went dark at 12:48 p.m. as a result.

The PUD was able to switch customers to the third BPA line, so that nearly all power was restored within 15 minutes of the initial outage. However, the third BPA line has a much lower capacity than the other two, so BPA and the PUD requested power conservation measures. The PUD worked with larger irrigators to reduce some of their load, and thanks all customers who answered the call to conserve.

BPA’s fire mitigation plan requires them to inspect an entire line for damage before re-energizing. They completed their inspection of the transmission line and re-energized at 6:17 p.m., restoring normal operations at that point.

In other summer news, Okanogan County PUD broke its previous record for summer peak power usage three days in a row during the June heatwave, June 28-30.

The previous summer record of 110 megawatts was set on Aug. 13, 2015. The record was broken first on June 28, 2021, with 111 MW, then on June 29 with 118 MW and finally on June 30 with 116 MW.

The summer peak record is still far below the PUD’s winter peak record, which is 178 MW.