FOLLOWUP: Day 2 of power outage in Brace Point area

12:12 PM: 34 hours and counting for that power outage we first mentioned Thursday morning. It started around 2:30 am Thursday with 160+ customers, and doubled before noon. Here’s the newest info from Seattle City Light‘s Julie Moore:

As I noted yesterday, it can take longer to find the issue in the underground system than with an overhead system. We’ve had crews onsite since the outage occurred and late yesterday morning we did locate the issue – a direct buried cable that went bad. Direct buried means just that – it is directly buried in the ground and not within conduit (this is an older system in this location; we no longer install systems in this manner). Unfortunately, the bad cable is also buried 8 feet under the road, which makes it more difficult to access.

The number of customers impacted increased from 165 to 337 because we needed to expand the outage to safely make the repairs.

The crews just tested the initial repairs and the fix is not fully complete. We have to do some more investigation of the cable. Crews will continue until restoration is complete.

8:50 PM: Liz commented about 45 minutes ago that she had power back; the City Light map shows the entire outage is now over. (If you’re still out, be sure to call SCL!)

29 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Day 2 of power outage in Brace Point area"

  • Alki resident May 22, 2020 (12:19 pm)

    I imagine everyone has lost all of their refrigerated perishables by now. This just sucks. 

    • Trickycoolj May 22, 2020 (1:04 pm)

      Homeowners’ policies can cover food losses in a power outage.  Not everyone wants to make a claim, that’s understandable but it is an option. 

  • Rachel May 22, 2020 (12:50 pm)

    Given that it is their equipment failure and not natural disaster….is there any chance they will reimburse those impacted for food or the inconvenience? 

  • Bob j May 22, 2020 (2:00 pm)

    Yup Food all trash

  • Gill May 22, 2020 (2:44 pm)

    Bags of ice have worked great for us in the past.

    • Woody May 23, 2020 (7:36 am)

      On Thursday afternoon we decided to go to Fred Meyer for dry ice and two bags of regular cubed ice.  24 hours later without power and not sure for how much longer, we got a couple more dry ice packs.  Worked great in fridge, freezer and deep freeze.  No food was lost.  I’ve lived in the area for 60 years and have lost power only a few times and never more than two days.  Definitely a bit more challenging this time as we couldn’t pick up and leave the area, go shopping, movie, etc. thanks to SCL for working round the clock to get it done.  Gave us all something new to talk about!

  • James Irby Arnold May 22, 2020 (2:58 pm)

    My family and I thankfully have backup power like batteries cells for our devices, but we can’t refrigerate our food and we solely depend on our power to work, so yeah… this sucks… not to mention no hot water… but we’ve been through worse.

  • JennO May 22, 2020 (3:39 pm)

    Hope that they’re adding that conduit this time! 

    • Sans Power May 22, 2020 (4:19 pm)

      I talked to the crew this morning, the section of wire that they originally thought was the issue, and spent most of last night and this morning repairing, was actually in conduit.  One of the SCL crew mentioned that when the lines where originally installed, they would sometimes use conduit where the line passes under streets/intersections (in this case across SW 98th at 47th Ave SW), to avoid digging up the street in case of a failure, but the rest/majority of the lines in the neighborhood are “direct bury” (i.e., no conduit).  The section they are currently working on is not in conduit.Every one of the crew that I have talked to over since the outage started has said that this area is prone to failure and that the issues will likely continue and will get worse.  

  • bg May 22, 2020 (4:01 pm)

    The frustration I have, as a resident who has had no power since 2:30a Thursday morning, is the communication from SCL. When calling or looking at the outage map, there is very little information. The map is updated periodically, always with a new estimate as to when power will be restored. In the past, this estimate of when service will resume has been fairly accurate, and, as I recall, has been accompanied by more detail as to what caused the outage; we seem to be more prone to outages than some other areas, & losing power here is not an infrequent event. In this instance, the system has consistently given us an estimated restoration time of only a few hours, and then pushed it back another few hours as that deadline came & went. The phrase, “Equip_Fail,” is the only information provided to explain the outage. When you think your power will be back on in a few hours, you simply don’t open your fridge, you make sure you know where your flashlights are, maybe order some food. SCL’s direct communication to residents – of which there are only 337 – has been nil, other than updates on the System Status page & reading this release on the West Seattle Blog. If we had been provided more details, including being told we would be without power for, potentially, days, we would have had a chance to better address the issues of food storage, having hot water, communications issues, etc. In normal times this would be a big inconvenience. During a pandemic, it’s inexcusable. And kudos to the guys on the ground who are at least talking to us as they work to get this resolved.

    • WSB May 22, 2020 (5:39 pm)

      Just one note on that. The “estimated restoration” time is generally an absolutely useless “feature” of the outage map – having reported on dozens of local power outages over the years, believe me, it bears no relationship to anything, and City Light has told me as much, which is why I wind up saying that several times per outage and why I avoid including that in updates. No comfort or consolation but just a note. To one of your other points – before outage maps, SCL had a page that would just list outage info in text and it was often a bit more detailed – plus it provided a record of outages – now, once an outage ends, it vanishes from the map as if it never happened (which is a big reason why we report even small outages like the two-digit one in upper Alki some days back – at least there’s a permanent archive as a result). Sorry I don’t have anything further. Hope they’re close – TR

      • bg May 22, 2020 (7:44 pm)

        That’s so helpful to know, TR – thank you!Power was on for about 90 minutes and it’s back off again. Between this, the bridge and the corona virus, oy. Really appreciate all you do to keep us all connected.

  • Michael May 22, 2020 (4:37 pm)

    Good afternoon everyone, I know that this issue is taking its toll on all of us but there really is nothing we can do about it than leave the City Light crews alone to complete the repair as soon as the can. It’s not like they are not trying as I see them working 24/7 traveling the hours I do for work. Hopefully there will be some kind of a repair soon and all we can do is wish them well.Thanks,Everyone 

  • Craig Kalkoske May 22, 2020 (4:58 pm)

    The city has been surveying this neighborhood for the five years I’ve lived at West Beach Condominiums.Every Survey Crew I‘ve talked to (at least five) while walking my dog, said they were doing the surveying in preparation for the city to upgrade the infrastructure (electrical, water, CCTV, landlines, etc). The survey markings are still spray painted on 47th.But each crew said “the city didn’t have the money for a planned upgrade at that time. It was 3-5 years out”.  So now, we are getting the electrical upgrade, via a catastrophic, unplanned failure on a Holiday weekend, where OT will be spent to fix the outage.  I do appreciate the efforts of the crew(s) in tracking down the failure and coming up with a fix, don’t get me wrong.But if the residents knew that a planned outage was coming, there wouldn’t be so much wasted food and money to replace the food and the electrical service.I wonder what will be next?Just a cynical tax paying  citizen. 

  • Fauntleroy Have Power May 22, 2020 (5:08 pm)

    Is the power outage the reason for all of the jack hammering?

  • Dennis May 22, 2020 (5:43 pm)

    This blog title should be updated from “Why the power is out” to read “Power is out indefinitely” since it doesn’t really explain it, and the hard working crews seem to have no idea.  Frustrating that calls to SCL and the website’s sporadic updates can’t shed any light, no pun intended.  With pandemic sheltering and west Seattle bridge out, staying home is necessary and a little darker now.  I wonder if SCL can run auxiliary power line to this neighborhood while the keep searching for the failure?

    • Patrick May 22, 2020 (7:57 pm)

      I had a similar question around the opportunity to splice in an auxiliary feed. There are now three separate outages locations within Bracepoint shown on the SCL outage website. Does this mean SCL has identified three separate points of failure that need addressed? It would be great if a spokesperson from SCL could provide updates to the community so folks understood how the resolution work was going.  

  • WSB May 22, 2020 (5:53 pm)

    Updated the headline.

  • Graciano May 22, 2020 (5:57 pm)

    My Moms lives in the effected area, a few blocks have had the power restored… All that under ground wiring was done around 1970

  • LaQuayQuay May 22, 2020 (6:34 pm)

    Do Westbeach condos have power now?

  • Diane May 22, 2020 (6:49 pm)

    Because of the pandemic, we have been ordering food deliveries just a few times a month in larger quantities. I suit up and Every thing goes into quarantine for 4 days before we are allowed to touch it (yes there reasons for the severity). I hope this ends soon enough to take the freezer items and have a big cooking spree and re freeze it all cooked. If not, Big $$$&

  • Michelle May 22, 2020 (7:08 pm)

    Still no power. Drive by the crews an hour ago and asked the first worker what she thought on ETA… “hopefully a couple hours…” Then asked a second one further down who said they really have no idea at this point.

  • dsa May 22, 2020 (7:19 pm)

    SCL’s Julie Moore stated above, last line: “… Crews will continue until restoration is complete.”

  • Liz Planta May 22, 2020 (8:06 pm)

    Power just came back on 50th!

  • Sarah MacKenzie May 22, 2020 (9:43 pm)

    Last night, while walking my dog, I spoke to a very sympathetic SCL supervisor who told me that we have two major issues:1.  Our direct bury cable which should be cable in conduit.  Conduit is easier to maintain and will give us a system that will have far fewer outages….and will bring us up to the SCL quality standard. Using direct burial cable is a bit like using romex on a commercial office building.   Not the right product for the job.2. Our vaults are “a mess”.   The SCL crews had to go through most of the vaults in the neighborhood to troubleshoot.  They need to be cleaned up.The supervisor also mentioned that we were slated to have this work done several years ago but the project was back-burnered.  This morning, on my way out of the neighborhood, I saw around 15 trucks and about 20-30 workers.  What is the cost of 34 hours of this crew and equipment?  The cost of neglect over the course of the next few years will be greater than the repair.  I think we need to campaign City Hall and SCL to put us back on the front burner.  We need to do these improvements now or we will all need to buy generators! 

    • flimflam May 22, 2020 (10:00 pm)

      seems like so many basic infrastructure/general upkeep of basic city functions have been neglected for some reason – its certainly NOT because the city has lacked the money over the last decade.

  • WSB May 22, 2020 (9:52 pm)

    Whatever happened to that project will be an excellent followup. According to page 9 of this doc
    https://www.seattle.gov/light/wmbe/docs/Public_Works_Project_Summaries.pdf
    it was at one point slated for construction this year. The project name is/was Brace Point LID – usually that would mean a Local Improvement District, as in assessing property owners in the area for the upgrade, but the summary on the doc doesn’t go into those details. Another doc online indicates the project got at least to 60 percent design. – TR

  • earl95 May 23, 2020 (11:24 am)

    My home had a failure of the direct bury cables from the transformer to my meter in 2018. That was the same year SCL started surveying for the planning to place the main cables in conduit. The SCL crews working at my home advised me that they had completed similar, and larger projects to place in conduit in Laurelhurst and Magnolia in earlier years. This is going to be essential to get reliability to our part of the grid. The underground utilities were installed in 1972, which is now 48 years ago, and the cables in the ground have a 50 year useful life. Like everything else this will take time, money and patience for the disruption of our streets and sidewalk (my project took 7 months to complete). It will be worth it, the previous generations of homeowners made the investments in our neighborhood 50 years ago, we will have to consider a similar decision sooner than later.  

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