Why Do We Have So Many Power Outages?

By Marcie Miller

Most people who move to Bainbridge Island don’t come here to live off the grid, reading by lantern light before a wood-burning stove. But every winter, thousands of residents are plunged into darkness when the power goes out. Again.

Each year Puget Sound Energy (PSE) logs about 300 power outages on Bainbridge Island, lasting on average three hours.

The reason for the outages is pretty simple: trees. Lots of them. Trees plus power lines equal power outages, a common equation across the Evergreen State.

According to Julia Hughes, communications program manager at PSE, restoring power is a matter of priorities. The first priority is to restore power to the large, high voltage transmission lines that supply power to the largest number of customers. Then crews begin working to restore power on secondary lines to homes and businesses. There are only 14 miles of transmission lines on the island, but there are 145 miles of secondary lines. It doesn’t take a large branch to take one out. Hughes said most outages affect 10 or less customers at a time.

So what to do until the power comes back and you can pop popcorn in the microwave? For helpful tips on how to be prepared for an outage, including preparing an emergency kit, go to pse.com/safety. If you experience an outage, call PSE at 888-225-5773. And most importantly, keep people and pets away from downed power lines, which can still be live.

Why Do We Have So Many Power Outages?