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Power restored, but cause still unknown for outage Tacoma’s North and West ends

Post by Doug Conarroe on May 31, 2010 at 3:11 pm with 22 Comments »
May 31, 2010 8:47 pm

Just about the same time the sun showed up, the power went out, spoiling Memorial Day fun for many Tacoma residents.

A “major equipment failure” at a Tacoma Public Utilities substation cut power to some 10,000 homes and businesses in the city’s Westgate neighborhood and surrounding areas in the city’s North and West ends for about four hours this afternoon.

Crews restored the electricity by about 5 p.m., utilities spokeswoman Chris Gleason said.

They were still trying to sort out what caused the outage, but there was some thought it might have been the result of a mylar balloon striking high-voltage lines, Gleason said.

Whatever the origin, it brought about what she called a “major equipment failure” at the Pearl Street substation.

That type of problem “is very unusual for us,” she said.

Some residents noticed power coming on briefly at periods in the afternoon, then shutting off again. That’s not unusual as equipment is worked on, Gleason added.

The outage began at around 1 p.m.

Crews rerouted power to get electricity back on in area homes and businesses and will continue work on a permanent fix on Tuesday, Gleason said.

Tacoma, Traffic news
Leave a comment Comments → 22
  1. demeter says:

    every house has no power all the way up but tnt on the job

  2. demeter says:

    every house has no power all the way up but Tacoma news tribune reports it as traffic lights

  3. nwebers says:

    One of my friends on Facebook reported that something blew out at the N. 26th and Pearl St. substation. When that happened, the power went out. My parents’ place is just southwest of the substation about one mile away and they still have power there.

  4. ptproudnative says:

    my electricity flikkered about half hr ago an im in lakewood

  5. JohnProsser says:

    I know there are lights out as far west as 11th and Jackson (at the Highway 16 off-ramp to Jackson), and at least as far north as N. 31st (covering all of Westgate), and as far east as at least Orchard. 6th But yes, house power in this area is out too.

  6. queenanne9 says:

    Power is out at least from N 21st all the way down Pearl to Pt Defiance, including at least as far east as N Shirley. TNT, please research and let us curious cats know what caused and any idea how much longer (hit just before 1 PM today, 5/31/10, it’s still out at 3:51 PM)…..???

  7. BlueKitten says:

    Power is off at least as far north as Pearl and N 37th, and as far east as Stevens and N 26th. There is power at Stevens and N 21st, as well as all along Proctor street. There was a large boom audible at Pearl and N 37th, several seconds after the power cut out.

  8. OzSomeWaun says:

    The power just came on. We’re around 45th & Pearl.

  9. golive08 says:

    I am curious as to how Tacoma fire found out or how Tacoma Power found out. I called at 1pm and they were closed, and the emergency dispatcher said they wouldn’t help. An estimate when it would be turned on would be nice, power at 26th still isn’t on.

  10. tomatl411 says:

    Power went out first at the next door neighbor’s house at around 2:30, then our house 30 minutes later, out for 20 min, then it came back on before going off again for 10 minutes before it came back on. I live near N. 27th and Monroe. I’ve called Tacoma Power repeatedly, but their pre-recorded message saying “all circuits are busy” gives me no information–no one answers and no where to leave information. The Tacoma Power Website is equally useless for giving information on the situation.

  11. Tacoma_Born says:

    I’ve been trying to contact Tacoma Power all day too. At first I just got the “all circuits are busy” message, then I started getting the “We are closed for the holiday” message. Seems like even on a holiday someone should be there for emergencies, like, oh, thousands of people being without electricity. Even a recorded message saying they know the power’s out? I’m sure 911 is tired of getting calls.

  12. it seems to be a full sector meltdown

    the previous post about the N 26th and pearl substation being the cause is more than likely correct. from past experience having mapped the northern power grid bounderies from winter power outages in each area, said streets above all are within the north power grid sector which is directly controled by substations just like the one on N 26th and pearl… of which is also a controling center substation for the northern sector. had this one overloaded for any means *old age, poor care, warming weather and so on* it can easily cause a large blackout and glitching issues in surrounding areas within the same sector of the grid.

    my suspicious is that the N 26th and pearl substation has had a blow out. people within the immediate area and upto and over a mile away are reporting a LOUD boom noise and those closer reporting a very potent burnt circuit smell in the air. put two and two together, a large area of the north sector is without power… reports are pointing to an origin around the N 26th and Pearl area and those closest to that area reporting a potent burnt circuit smell in the air just after the explostion. signs point to a substation issue.

  13. Power out 12:57p (stove clock stopped)
    Power on 4:33p (Comcast box flicked on)

  14. BlueKitten says:

    The all circuits are busy message is the phone company – you never actually got through to the power company. In the future, there is a phone number just for reporting an outage 253-502-8602, and it let me report the outage and gave me a pre-recorded message that there was a known outage for more than just me. If they have an estimated time of repair, the message will give that as well. Unfortunately, so many people were calling in that it took me about 2 hours to get through.

  15. It’s wasn’t from 21st, it was from 11th South to Proctor East. I don’t know how far North or West.

    The good news is that it only lasted 3-4 hours. But what really pisses me off is that NO ONE haf any information. Even on a holiday, TP needed to have the power
    outage reporting line staffed, & they should have at minimum had a tape recording running on the phone line with information.

    Neither the police nor the tnt had any information other then that the power was out.

  16. Blue Kitten, you were fortunate to get through to the reporting line. Everytime I tried it just cycled me back to the main we are closed message.

  17. my lights flickered on Hilltop.

    I thought it was odd as I never lost power (and rarely had a flicker) when I was near Stadium High School and figured that I was on the same grid here.

  18. stradivari says:

    I suspect the supermarkets were pretty worried about ruined frozen product when no information was forthcoming. Nothing on battery radios, smart phones. City utilities did a lousy PR job.

  19. BlueKitten says:

    Moo, were you calling the reporting line or the main line? If you were calling the main line, that’s all you would get. The reporting line is open 24/7/365.

  20. The 8602 number didn’t work for me either. I called both numbers for a couple of hours until I managed to talk to several of my neighbors and ascertain that it was a fairly large outage.

    TPU certainly does need to get a better handle on these things…communication is nonexistent, which is the easiest way to tell it is not a private utility. PSE, which I am no fan of, does a much better job communicating this kind of thing with its customers. Even if the phone lines are jammed, then there still should be a news release to TNT, radio etc., as well as an updated website (for those who have computer access during the outage or smart phones). Even if they can’t tell you exactly when power will be restored, they can tell you that the problem has been reported and what happened (then I can decide whether to worry about the fridge full of groceries I just bought).

    They pay these folks top market salaries, saying that it is directly tied to retention of the best employees. I expect that to mean that customer relations exceed that of other local utilities.

  21. BlueKitten says:
    May 31, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Moo, were you calling the reporting line or the main line? If you were calling the main line, that’s all you would get. The reporting line is open 24/7/365.

    I could only find the main line, but i selected the outage reporting option from the menu. I then got a message that the call would be monitored, then was redirected back to the we’re closed message.

    I couldn’t find the direct reporting # on my bill.

  22. Pat_riot says:

    There are a few people manning the system 24/7, however no one will come in to answer phones unless an outage occurs. Then of course it takes time for people to get in. They have just set up a new system for outages and reporting outages that encourages people to use the automated system.. saving time and tax payer money (by requiring less people to come in and answer phones). That just being implemented a few weeks ago.. and not really having a good test yet.. may have not been working properly. Relax people, they’re trying as hard and fast as they can to restore power once it goes out!

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