OPALCO works with BPA to maintain a safe and reliable electric system

All of San Juan County will experience a planned power outage beginning at 11:00 pm on Thursday, September 15th and ending by 6:00 am on Friday, September 16th. Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) is conducting this outage event in their substation in Anacortes, which is the point of delivery for power in the San Juan Islands. OPALCO crews will take advantage of this opportunity to conduct required inspection and maintenance work on our system.

This outage impacts all of San Juan County; unfortunately, there is no way to reroute power to the islands during the maintenance work. Although redundancy exists in much of OPALCO’s distribution system (submarine cables and overhead/underground lines), BPA’s transmission is currently a single radial line into the substation that feeds OPALCO’s system. “The cost to add a second transmission line would be prohibitive,” said OPALCO System Engineer Joel Mietzner. “And the cost of litigation to condemn residential property along the path of the transmission line in Anacortes makes it especially complex and expensive.”

Compliance with the National Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) is mandated for systems of 115kV and larger, but will likely (in the next 2-3 years) include smaller systems like OPALCO’s of 69kV and larger. OPALCO keeps in compliance with NERC standards as a routine operations practice; which includes 24 switches on our system that we methodically test and maintain.

OPALCO members are responsible for their own equipment and OPALCO encourages all members to install surge protection to safeguard electronic, computer and other sensitive equipment and appliances. To prepare for the outage, it’s a good idea to keep a flashlight handy overnight and turn sensitive electronics and equipment off at the surge protector, or unplug them completely. First thing in the morning, turn electronics and appliances back on slowly, one at a time. For more information on surge protection, to learn how to prepare for an outage and what to do during an outage, go to our Power Info section.