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Power Outages

Smell or hear a natural gas leak? Call us at (800) 227-9187

For up to date weather information and alerts, visit the National Weather Service.





Frequently Asked Questions

Restoration Times

Estimated restoration times fall into two categories: normal operations and storm operations. Many factors affect how we determine your estimated restoration time.

During normal operations, our system establishes an initial estimated restoration time based on historical data of post outage experience. Once a crew arrives on site and evaluates the situation, the estimated restoration time may be updated.

During storm operations, we follow five steps:

  1. Planning. As storms are predicted, staffing and response coordination is scheduled. Avista stands ready to restore your power as soon as it is safe to do so.
  2. Assess the damage. Our crews work as quickly and safely as possible to assess the damage. Through it is expected that many customers will be restored sooner, our system estimates 48 hours from the start of the event. More specific estimated times of restorations will be provided as soon as damage assessments can be completed. If you have damage to the electric service on your home, a licensed electrician may need to make repairs before we can safely restore your power.
  3. Restoration begins. Restoration efforts are underway as weather and safety conditions permit. Our workers will focus on restoring power to critical infrastructure first, such as transmission lines and substations, as this will restore power to larger groups of customers at once. Emergency facilities such as hospitals will also be prioritized. Assessments continue and restoration times are updated as more information becomes available.
  4. Restoration continues. Progress continues as we work to repair damage from the storm. Crews are working on many locations throughout the affected areas. Safety of our customers and our workers is our top priority, so we appreciate your patience as we restore power as quickly as possible.
  5. Restoration complete. Power has been restored to all affected customers. If your home or outbuilding has an overhead mast, look to see if it has damage. Repairs need to be made by a licensed electrician before we can safely restore power to your home. If your neighbors have power but you do not, please contact us at (800) 227-9187.

When a major storm disrupts service to a large number of customers, our first concern is safety. During storm restoration, facilities that are essential to the health and welfare of the community are given priority — hospitals, health care providers, emergency services, public safety, water and sewage stations, and other vital community services.

After service is restored to priority customers, our strategy is to concentrate restoration efforts in the areas that restore electricity to the greatest number of people in the shortest period of time. Avista starts at the source of the power outage and works outward to restore electrical service.

When making a decision on where power should be restored first, we look at the amount of customers that are affected by the outage. If we have a choice to restore 2,000 customers or 100 customers, we would first work to get the 2,000 customers up and running.

When a major storm disrupts service to a large number of customers, our first concern is safety. During storm restoration, facilities that are essential to the health and welfare of the community are given priority — hospitals, health care providers, emergency services, public safety, water and sewage stations, and other vital community services.

This can occur because power circuits do not always follow streets or area geography. If you received information that power has been restored in your area and your lights are still out, please contact Avista at (800) 227-9187. It could be possible that you were affected by two problems and only one was corrected.

Each outage has different circumstances, and some may take longer than others to identify the source of the problem. Our crews work as quickly and safely as possible to restore your power. During widespread storm-related outages, the availability of restoration information from our crews may be significantly delayed.

In addition, there are other factors that can affect the time of power restoration: weather conditions, accessibility to damaged areas, time of day and environmental issues. Since these factors can impact outages differently, it can be difficult to predict restoration times.

Sign up to receive general outage information, storm updates and safety tips.

Safety & Preparation

  • Keep emergency supplies on hand, including:
    • Flashlights with fresh batteries
    • Portable, battery-powered radio
    • Wind-up or battery-powered clock
    • Water and nonperishable food
    • Manual can opener
  • Make sure cell phones and tablets are fully charged and remember, cordless phones will not work without electricity.
  • Know how to manually open and close any electric garage doors, security doors or gates.
  • Protect sensitive electric equipment such as computers and televisions by installing surge protectors or other power protection devices.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms and CO2 detectors have fresh batteries. Even those alarms that are wired to your home's electrical system should have a fresh backup battery.
  • Identify the operating requirements of gas equipment. During an outage, appliances with electronic ignitions will not work because electricity is needed to ignite the natural gas. In addition, appliances requiring fans or other electric devices to run (such as central heating units and gas clothes dryers) will not operate.
  • It is important that customers with special medical needs or their caregivers take steps to ensure their safety by making arrangements ahead of time to prepare for potentially long-lasting interruptions in electric service. Plan ahead for storms or other service interruptions.

If your power goes out and you have not been notified in advance, please check both your electric meter and your circuit breakers. If the dial on your electric meter is spinning, or if the display shows a read or flashing 88888's, the issue will be with your equipment. Flip all your breakers to the off position and then back to the on position, including the main breaker.

Please note: If you are in an apartment, mobile home or trailer, there is a breaker box in your home as well as a main breaker at your meter. It is important to check and reset both sets of breakers.

If the power does not return, you can report an outage and check on outage status online. You can also call us at (800) 227-9187. You will be connected to our automated telephone system which will walk you through reporting your service outage. You will also have the option to speak directly with a customer service representative. Do not assume that Avista knows your power is out — call us.

  • If you are the only one in your building or neighborhood without power, or the power went off while using an appliances, a tripped breaker may be the problem. Check your breakers and reset them.
  • If there is only partial power affecting a small area of your home, only a few appliances, or specific outlets, you may need to reset all the GFI outlets in your home.
  • Watch this video for troubleshooting tips.
  • Turn off all the appliances you think were on before the power went out.
  • Use flashlights instead of candles to reduce fire hazards.
  • Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to prevent food spoilage. Food should stay frozen for about one full day and fresh in the refrigerator for about four hours.
  • Do not heat your home with an outdoor grill or other items not intended for indoor use. This goes for cooking as well. Using outdoor grills, charcoal and other fuels meant for outdoor use can create deadly fumes if used indoors.
  • Unplug your electronic equipment, including computers.
  • Leave a light or radio on to let you know when you have service again.
  • Don't wire an emergency generator into your home electrical system. Backfeed into power lines could injure or kill a lineman working to get electricity restored.
  • Use your generator only to run specific appliances, and locate it outside so poisonous carbon monoxide fumes don't enter your home.
  • Lower the thermostat on all your electric heat sources to an absolute minimum. Once your power comes back on, wait a half hour before you return your thermostat to a normal setting. If your furnace doesn't kick in, call your HVAC dealer.
  • If you see a downed power line, stay away. Treat all power lines as if they are carrying electrical current, and never touch or move one.
  • To help Avista crews working in a neighborhood know which homes have power, turn on your front porch light.
  • After an outage, wait a few minutes before turning on major electrical appliances. This will help eliminate problems that could occur if there's a sharp increase in demand immediately after power is restored.
  • If you think power has been restored to your area, but your home is still without power, report your outage online or call us at (800) 227-9187.

Never touch or move a downed line. Stay as far away as possible and keep others away. Do not attempt to rescue someone else who has touched a downed line. Call (800) 227-9187 immediately, anytime, and we'll send emergency crews to handle the situation and make repairs.

Although a portable generator can be a valuable tool, it can also be very dangerous if not installed or used correctly. Here are a few tips:

  • Use your generator only to run specific appliances, and locate it outside so poisonous carbon monoxide fumes don't enter your home.
  • If you use a standby generator, be sure it's professionally installed and inspected according to local and National Electric Codes (NEC).
  • Always follow the manufacturer's instructions to avoid injuring or damaging your generator or appliances.
  • Never plug a generator directly into any electric outlets. Generators can feed electricity back into the power lines, putting you and our line workers in danger. Generators should only be electrically connected to the house electrical system through a professionally installed and inspected electrical transfer switch that meets local and National Electrical Codes (NEC), and that isolates the home and generator from the Electrical Utility System service to your house.

Equipment Damage

If your home or building has an overhead mast, look to see if it is damaged.

When there's tension on power lines to your masthead — for example, from fallen trees or broken limbs — it can cause a number of problems:

  • The overhead mast can get bent or pulled away from the house, causing wire to hang low in your yard.
  • Bent masts can also result in a broken fitting where the wire connects to your electric meter. The electric wire can be covered in steel pipe for safety.
  • If the meter fitting is broken, it can also cause an arc or burned meter socket.

For safety's sake, all of these repairs need to be made by a licensed electrician before Avista can safely restore power to your home.

  • Avista recommends you contact a licensed electrician and get two bids for repairs.
  • Contact Avista at (800) 227-9187 to disconnect your service so the electrician can safely perform the repair work.
  • Once the repairs are completed, contact Avista again to return to the site and reconnect your service.

Pole fires are not common but can occur anytime.

Causes and Conditions

Insulators are used to attach electric power lines to wood distribution poles. They are typically made of porcelain or polymer.

Dirt and grime can build up on these insulators throughout the year. The build-up can be worse in the winter, as there’s no rain to wash it away.

When it does rain after a long period of dry weather, the rain helps to clean the insulators and restores their insulation properties.

Humid weather (without rain) contributes to the risk of pole top fires. Dense fog, light rain, or light, wet snow can all provide the right conditions. The moisture in the air combines with the dirt on the insulators to allow an electrical short circuit, which can cause a fire.

Other factors, such as cracks or lightning damage, in conjunction with moisture, may also cause an insulator to fail and cause a pole fire.

Sometimes the pole may burn through, leaving the top of the pole, cross-arms and insulators suspended by the power lines, or power lines can break from the weight.

The short circuit trips a switch, cutting power to the lines, much like the fuses or breakers in a house. The tripped switch causes an outage, which could be limited to a small area or could involve a large number of customers.

Poles that have been damaged by fire usually need to be replaced. In doing so, we make every effort to minimize the length and impact of the outage. Sometimes power is restored to customers for a short time and then it goes out again; the second outage may be due to our equipment repairs/replacement.

Streetlights

To report a problem with a street light, call our customer service at (800) 227-9187 or use our contact form.

Scheduled Outages

You may receive a notice or a phone call about a scheduled outage that will interrupt your service. It means crews will be performing maintenance or upgrading equipment that serves you or your neighborhood.

We'll let you know a day in advance and try to be as accurate as possible, but the outage may not begin or end at the exact time. Occasionally, weather and operational issues may cancel a scheduled outage.

Part of your notice is a code that indicates the general type of work we'll be doing:


Code Work
A General maintenance that could include replacing transformers
WPM Testing, repairing or replacing aged power poles
VM Surveying or trimming vegetation near power lines
SG Upgrading equipment to include modern technology
GR Replacing natural gas pipeline
FR Upgrading power poles, lines and other equipment on a specific branch of our distribution system
UR Performing annual survey of natural gas lines

If you're part of a scheduled outage, here are a few steps you can take to be prepared:

  • Make sure your food stays as cold as possible by keeping refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Block ice can be used.
  • Learn how to manually open security gates and garage doors.
  • Notify any security companies that monitor your home or business.
  • Protect computers, television and other sensitive equipment by unplugging them.

If your power goes out and you have not been notified in advance, make sure to let us know. You can also call us at (800) 227-9187.

General Outage Questions

There are scheduled outages and unexpected outages.

Scheduled Outages
You may receive a notice or a phone call about a scheduled outage that will interrupt your service. It means crews will be performing maintenance or upgrading equipment that serves you or your neighborhood.

We'll let you know a day in advance and try to be as accurate as possible, but the outage may not begin or end at the exact time. Occasionally, weather and operational issues may cancel a scheduled outage.

Unexpected Outages
Our crews work around the clock to restore service following a variety of unexpected outage causes:

  • Weather — Lightning, wind, rain, snow, ice, excessive heat/cold that may have impacted our electrical equipment.
  • Equipment — Wear and tear. Many things fall under this category. Could include overhead electrical equipment, underground electrical equipment and transmission equipment. This could include small connections at the customer's residence to transmission lines that serve thousands of customers.
  • Miscellaneous — Mechanical damage, construction error, fire, etc.
  • Animal — Contact with electrical equipment.
  • Trees — Fallen trees, branches, tree growth into equipment.
  • Human — Accidents, vandalism or other human caused outages.

You can request a wake-up call after you have reported your power outage. Please contact our customer service department at (800) 227-9187. After you have listened to the outage information, you will be given the option to request a wake-up call.

The power lines that serve your home or business have a variety of protective devices designed to keep your power on during storms and other severe weather. There are several reasons your lights might blink during a storm, but the most common cause is tree movement. Despite our best efforts to trim trees near power lines, trees may come in contact with our lines during strong winds. When that happens, your lights may dim or you may lose power for a few seconds. It's important that our customers allow us to trim trees near power lines to minimize these types of disruptions.

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