Rocky Mountain Power customers concerned over planned outages during heatwave

Sep 1, 2022, 7:36 PM | Updated: 10:05 pm

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah — Rocky Mountain Power customers are expressing concern and wondering why the power company is planning hours-long outages right during the middle of a heatwave. Rocky Mountain Power said it has planned five outages in Salt Lake County over the next 10 days, lasting longer than three hours.

While some of the outages are small and affecting less than a dozen customers, one will take out power to nearly 550 households for several hours.

The Baker family lives in that outage area in Daybreak. Chris Baker said he received an email from Rocky Mountain Power this week, announcing the planned power interruption with the reasoning listed as equipment repairs.

The family will not have electricity or air conditioning from 4 pm to 9 pm on Tuesday. Baker explained that he and his wife Monica work from home often during those evening hours, and at that time their kids are home from school and working on homework.

He’s concerned about how hot it’ll get inside their home, with the forecast calling for upper 90s to triple digit temperatures.

“They scheduled this planned service or repair… during the hottest part of the day, in a record-breaking heat wave,” Baker pointed out. “It just didn’t make much good sense.”

Baker isn’t just concerned about his household. He’s worried about how this will impact people with health issues.

Rocky Mountain Power spokesperson David Eskelsen said they try to be sensitive to the need to de-energize customers in order to perform work. But some projects require pulling houses off the grid.

Over the next 10 days, nearly 600 homes between Herriman, Cottonwood Heights, Draper, and South Jordan will experience outages lasting anywhere from 4 to 6 hours.

“We have put off a lot of maintenance because of the hot weather this year,” Eskelsen said.

He explained that these repairs need to happen and were scheduled during a time when the weather is typically cooler. But the start to September is turning out to be unusually warm.

“What we’re trying to do is, only do those projects that are really pressing. That is, it’s probably not a good idea to wait,” he said. “We need to get these projects done, because you run the risk of having an equipment failure that makes a bigger outage and takes longer to fix.”

Some of the outages are planned for the midday hours, while others including the one impacting the Baker home will take place during the late afternoon and evening.

Eskelsen said they try to give customers at least a 24-hour notice, so people can prepare a plan. He explained that they always recommend customers stay prepared to handle outages with enough supplies and a backup plan to last for 72 hours.

Baker isn’t quite sure what his family will do during what’s supposed to be a peak time at home for them. He still has concerns as to the timing of the outage.

“I would just hope that they plan it out a little bit better,” he said, suggesting, “Maybe during cooler hours, overnight.”

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Rocky Mountain Power customers concerned over planned outages during heatwave