Power restored to Southeastern Idaho
FIRTH — When electric power goes out, it sure becomes quiet—and still.
Temperatures hovered about 1 degree Wednesday morning with a chill factor of -4 degrees when some 49,000 Rocky Mountain Power customers woke up to no power.
As of 4:20 p.m., the system showed all customers were restored to power.
"The Rocky Mountain Power appreciates the understanding and patience our customers have shown during the unexpected outage that occurred Wednesday in Southeastern Idaho," said Rocky Mountain spokesman David Eskelsen. "The circuit breaker in the Goshen Substation has been returned to service.
"If customers are still without power, please call our customer service representatives at 877-508-5088 toll free." he said.
Eskelsen explained why there was a power outage:
"Rocky Mountain Power was required to interrupt service to some 49,000 Idaho customers at 5:11 a.m. on Wednesday because of a technical problem in the company’s Goshen Substation near Firth. A circuit breaker in the substation was out of service for critical maintenance this week.
"Unfortunately, conditions on the transmission system developed Wednesday morning that could possibly have created an even larger-scale outage. As a result, transmission regulations required Rocky Mountain Power to interrupt service to Idaho customers until stability for the transmission system can be assured. This is a precautionary measure; there is not an overload condition.
"This problem is local to Southeastern Idaho. Idaho Falls City Power and Fall River Electric were also asked to interrupt service to their customers.
"We are working hard to restore the circuit breaker as quickly as possible and to re-route power where we can, but customers should take steps to be without service until later on Wednesday."
By 3 p.m., power had been restored to all but 1,600 customers.
"For a power outage, it hit us just about perfect," said Firth fire chief Bruce Anthony. "Heat had been on in the buildings throughout the night and we had the heat of the day, though not much heat, during the daylight hours.
"To retain heat in homes, keep it sealed up," he said. "Close the doors to the various rooms and seal up the windows.
"Back a few years ago, a lot of people were heating with wood but I didn't hear of any fire calls this morning [on Wednesday," said Anthony.
"The doors in the fire station are automatic," he said. "We can disconnect them and throw the doors up by hand so we are ready to roll."
People and their families did many different things during the power outage.
"We read, did art, played board games and did a couple errands in Idaho Falls," said Jamy Corbett from Shelley. "We have a wood-burning stove so we were warm enough."
Natalie Kohler from Shelley said, "It was an adventure. We have a fireplace to keep warm.
"My brother and I went outside to build a fire in our driveway," she said. "Then we boiled water to make hot chocolate."
"We let the kids sleep in 'til about 7:30," said Todd Killpack from Firth. "About that time, I got in my truck to warm up and to go to work."
His wife, Liz, said, "[The kids and I] had a fire in the fireplace. We played with the train under the Christmas tree, cuddled up on the couch and read books.
"We were all in the same room together," she said. "It was so quiet; there were no electronics. We didn't want the electricity to come back on."
"The kids and I went into Idaho Falls to do Christmas shopping," said Killpack. "As we were driving [north] on Hitt Road, businesses on the left side of the road had lights; businesses on the right side of the road did not. It was kind of weird."
Anita Wanstrom from Firth said, "We have a wood stove in our garage. My husband, Scot, built a fire in the stove so the garage was nice and warm.
"We boiled water to make hot chocolate, fried eggs on top of the stove and then opened the door to toast bread," she said.
"This is old-fashioned," the kids said.
"About the time the kids were planning to play board games, the electricity came on," said Wanstrom.
Some of the schools that were closed on Wednesday included Firth, Shelley, Bonneville School District, Ririe, Jefferson School District No. 251 and Rexburg.