ELLENSBURG - A power outage left Ellensburg and a large number of Kittitas County Public Utility District customers in the dark Thursday afternoon for various amounts of time.

According to Richard French, light operations supervisor for the city of Ellensburg, a citizen reported seeing an arcing, high-voltage line at the Bonneville Power Administration substation on Dolarway Road.

"We responded and found a broken connector and a 115,000-volt open arc coming and going as the wind blew the wire around," French said.

The arcing line was discovered around 12:30 p.m. At 1:15 p.m., equipment failed and opened a circuit breaker, cutting off power in the city and to portions of the county PUD and Puget Sound Energy service areas.

The broken piece of equipment was a lightning arrestor. The arcing electricity went aground, causing the lightning arrestor to fail, French said.

He said a Bonneville substation team responded to the failure, rerouting power through different switches and lines to restore electricity. According to French, power to the city and Puget Sound Energy was restored by around 1:40 p.m.

A PUD spokeswoman said power to about 1,200 PUD customers went out at about 12:45 p.m., affecting service areas in Parke Creek and north and south of Ellensburg. PUD and PSE crews helped reroute power which started bringing PUD customers back on line in phases beginning about 1:15 p.m. The final portion of PUD customers had power restored about three hours after the outage began.

The PUD has more than 4,200 customers countywide.

BPA crews are expected to install new equipment and make repairs today at the substation, according to the PUD. Customers will experience a momentary outage (five minutes or less) as power is brought back through the repaired system this afternoon.


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