Equipment failure caused the Key Peninsula power outage shortly after midnight Oct. 21.
According to Pen Light’s Director of Member Services and Marketing, Jonathan White, an insulator on top of a transmission line failed at 12:02 a.m. and power was not restored until about 6:30 a.m.
The task for Pen Light crews was to search 45 miles of transmission line to find an insulator on a line that failed and caused the circuit to open. Crews were out in the middle of night, up in bucket trucks, searching for the insulator.
“It was like searching for the needle in the haystack,” White said. “It took them all night to locate it.” Adding complication to isolating the line was the fact that crews didn’t know which side of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to search. The power company has a project in progress along the Bridge which is redoing the circuit from Tacoma. Usually two circuits provide power to Tacoma but because of that project all of the power system is on one circuit.
Over six hours of power outage affected 8,100 households and businesses in the Minter, Vaughn and Lakebay communities of the Key Peninsula. The Artondale area of Gig Harbor was also impacted with short periods of interruptions as crews tried to isolate the problem. White said all the outage reports were recorded on the Pen Light smart phone system and out of 8,100 people about 1,200 people called in to make a report.
Fortunately, one of the crews observed an arc when the switch on the transmission line was re-closed and that isolated the failed transmission line. The crew went to work from their bucket truck, in the predawn hours. They removed the failed insulator, installed a new insulator, attached it, and re-energized the circuit. The Key Peninsula’s power was restored before sunrise.