The 2022-2023 storm season started for Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative on December 9 and has kept our crews busy since. Some weather-related outages this winter have lasted several hours. A few of our members were without power for nearly 48 hours before crews completely restored the power system after a December 26 storm.
The first storm came the night of December 9, when extreme wind and rain caused a failure on the Bonneville Power Administration transmission line that feeds CCEC’s Gold Beach substation. The heavy wind caused a static ground wire to break at the top of a BPA-owned 100-foot-tall steel lattice tower and fall into the energized conductors below. This put all of Gold Beach and most of Brookings in the dark. CCEC and BPA crews worked together in the severe weather to correct the cause of the failure and restore power in about eight hours.
The length of the outage on that cold night meant that when power was restored, every HVAC system, water heater and refrigerator were calling for power. We call that a cold load pickup. It requires us to restore the system in phases. If we simply flipped the switch to restore the whole system at once, overcurrent protection
would trip it right back off, like the circuit breakers tripping in your own home when a circuit is overloaded.
Adding to the challenges of that difficult restoration on December 9: When the power system was fully restored, BPA technicians were troubleshooting another problem at their Rogue Substation and inadvertently tripped the same transmission line. It put Gold Beach and Brookings in the dark for a second time that night. Power was restored about an hour later.
The December 26 storm resulted in many outages across the entire CCEC system. The CCEC system experienced more damage from fallen trees during that storm than it has in more than a decade. Around-the-clock restoration efforts restored power to all members within about 48 hours.
The power system is a large machine. Like all machines, it breaks down from time to time. With little or no preparation, most of us can easily manage the inconvenience of a short power outage. However, we should all be prepared to cope through power outages that last several hours or even a day or two. A personal power outage plan could be a lifeor- death matter if you rely on a medical appliance.
With two months of winter storms ahead, please be prepared for the worst, and we’ll all hope for the best.