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Pacific Power: Major Outage Caused by Grants Pass Substation Upgrade

Construction of an upgraded substation in Grants Pass caused the issue today that left thousands of customers in Josephine County without power.

Posted: Nov. 14, 2018 4:46 PM
Updated: Nov. 14, 2018 7:02 PM

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — A widespread outage in the Grants Pass area on Wednesday morning was actually the indirect result of upgrades being made on the substation there, according to a statement from Pacific Power released in the afternoon.

‘We apologize for the inconveniences our customers are experiencing during this period,” said Christina Kruger, regional business manager for Pacific Power. “The ongoing work is necessary to improve the system to keep up with growth. We are a vibrant, growing community and our system needs to keep up with this growth. Right now, we are experiencing some growing pains while we are working on finishing our current reliability projects.”

The company says that they have been working to upgrade their transmission system in the area since May.

"The upgrade work, however, has temporarily made the system more prone to outages that affect a broader number of customers."

Pacific Power expects the $10 million upgrade project to be finished in mid-December. However, in the meantime, outages may be a periodic reality.

"During construction on a substation, the power system needed to be realigned to allow crews to work safely. This means that minor instances which might otherwise have caused a small, localized outage, tripped circuits across a larger area, as Southern Oregon experienced on Nov. 14," the company said.

Presumably, the same construction resulted in an even larger outage in June that encompassed most of Josephine County. An accident caused damage to the Grants Pass substation at the time.

Due to continuing growth in Southern Oregon, Pacific Power says that they built their "Whetstone" substation near Kirkland Road in White City. Now they expect to break ground in the next several years on $70 million in upgraded transmission lines and a new substation in the Sam's Valley area.

“We will keep you posted on the progress on the Grants Pass substation work,” said Kruger. “We apologize for the inconvenience now but when the work is done, we should have an even more reliable electric grid than before.”

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