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Lower Valley Energy cuts back power to aid southeastern Idaho

Five years ago this week, the Independent ran a story discussing how the Town of Afton had to decide whether to reclaim the old hydroelectric plant.  Today, the hydro plant produces green power and provides a renewable source of energy for the Town of Afton and Lower Valley Energy (Independent File Photo)

Lower Valley Energy cut back its available power to area customers on Wednesday, Dec. 4 in response to a power crisis in southeastern Idaho.

Nearly 49,000 Rocky Mountain Power customers from Idaho Falls to Shelley, Rigby, St. Anthony, Mud Lake and Lewisville were without power due to a “major transmission issue.”

Rocky Mountain Power officials issued a statement at 10 a.m. regarding the outage.

“Rocky Mountain Power was required to interrupt service to some 49,000 Idaho customers at 5:11 a.m. today because of a technical problem in the company’s Goshen Substation near Firth, Idaho,” the statement said. “A circuit breaker in the substation was out of service for critical  maintenance this week.

“Unfortunately, conditions on the transmission system developed this 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 this afternoon.”

Palisades Dam

The Bureau of Reclamation responded to the emergency demand from the Bonneville Power Administration by increasing generation at Palisades Dam. Water flows below the dam were increased Wednesday morning to help resolve power problems.

According to the Bureau of Reclamation, flows from Palisades Dam were increased from 1,200 cubic feet per second to approximately 4,700 cfs immediately following the early morning power shortage.

“We were able to make a large contribution towards resolution of the power problem, but the result is unexpected fluctuations in the river,” said Mike Beus, Upper Snake Field Office Water Manager. “People should be cautious near the river as flows increase.”

Reclamation will reduce the flow to its initial level slowly over the next 36 hours “to reduced adverse impacts to fish and other natural resources.”

The Palisades Power Plant has four generators with a total capacity of 176,600 kilowatts.

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