Power outages happen. We don’t want them to happen. Of course you don’t either. The headline of this post is actually pretty silly – “track power outages.” If your power is out, it’s pretty easy to track, right? No lights.
Since October of last year we have posted every power outage on our website
and updated the number of customers who are without power in near-real time.
When we first did this, I recall having some interesting conversations with customers and employees about how useful this tool would actually be with customers. It turns out that while your power is out; you’re probably not browsing the web, for obvious reasons. Yet, cell phones work and many people call friends to check the status of an outage (hopefully after calling 1-800-227-9187) to report it to us. If you’re at work during a storm or want to check on an outage for a loved one, it’s pretty easy to look for outages in your area from a list or map view
The media also uses this tool to watch for outages. When lightning strikes, heavy snows fall or especially if wind whips through in our service territory, the media looks for outages. During big storms outages often lead the local broadcasts or end up in the newspaper.
The tricky part in explaining outages is that currently our website lists “equipment failure” as the cause of nearly every outage. In some sense that is true. If a curious squirrel jumps on a transformer it may open a switch, like a breaker in your house, which turns off the power. If a car hits a utility pole, it might knock a power line down, temporarily cutting power to customers on the other end of the line. If wind snaps a tree branch in half and it goes crashing into the arm of a power pole, breaking an insulator, the power may go out.
In each of the instances above, the “equipment failed,” but not because it was faulty or defective. It failed to keep working because an outside force made it stop working. We work to quickly and safely restore power, regardless of the cause.
So now you know that “equipment failure” doesn’t usually happen on its own – something has to make it so.
Have you called Avista about a power outage? How would you rate your experience? Comment below.