Power outage caused by submarine cable failure

June 25 outage causes minor grass fire on Blakely

Power outage this week due to submarine cable fault

Orcas Power & Light Cooperative (OPALCO) crews responded at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, June 25 to an outage due to a fault in the submarine cable that runs from the Lopez substation to serve Decatur, Blakely and Center Islands.

After testing the cable, the crew tried to reroute power transmission from Orcas, but experienced voltage problems. Crew members quickly found an alternative solution and worked into the night to build a jumper system that bypassed the transformer on Blakely and Decatur to feed power to the islands directly through OPALCO’s distribution system. As of 12:10 a.m. on Thursday, all power had been restored to residential customers. Three-phase power was restored by noon on Thursday. As a result of the outage, a minor grassfire flared up on Blakely’s south end but was quickly put out using shovels and fire extinguishers by the OPALCO crew with the help of local residents.

Upon investigation, OPALCO crews found a fault in the cable which is owned by Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and leased by OPALCO. Engineer Mark Tilstra reported, “The fault was discovered by radar two-thousand feet off shore. The crews were able to re-energize two phases of power to Decatur and Center and will keep Blakely fed from Orcas for the time being.” BPA has an extra cable already in place in that crossing and OPALCO was already in the process of negotiating a new lease agreement that will allow the use of that cable for a redundant feed.

“OPALCO is proud of its dedicated line crews,” said Foreman Todd Shaner. “Engineering and operations worked long hours together to resolve this outage as quickly as possible. We appreciate their commitment to serving our members.”

What should you do if the power goes out?

First, check your breakers. Second, check with your neighbors. Third, if it still appears that there is a power outage, call the OPALCO Outage Hotline at 376-3599. Members are urged to make sure all sensitive electronics and appliances are safe-guarded by surge protectors – before an outage occurs. If damage to personal equipment occurs, members must first file claims with their own insurance company before contacting OPALCO.