Wednesday’s power outage in Ammon may have been the largest blackout to hit the Idaho Falls area in the last year.
The outage affected more than 17,000 customers throughout eastern Idaho and led to all classes being cancelled by Bonneville Joint School District 93. Rocky Mountain Power spokesman David Eskelsen said the issue was caused by an interruption at a local substation but the company could not get more specific about what led to the blackout.
“Our first priority, of course, is getting power restored as soon as possible,” Eskelsen said.
While schools remained closed for students that day, District 93 officials were able to return to work soon after the power was restored.
The outage was the third that hit the Idaho Falls area within the last four months. The previous major outage was also caused by problems at a local substation, as weather-related surges at the West Side Substation and the Sugar Mill Substation in Idaho Falls on Dec. 30 kicked off a chain reaction throughout the region. A series of connected blackouts over the last two days of 2018 affected nearly 13,000 customers across all three power companies serving the Idaho Falls area.
The most recent major outage occurred Feb. 14, when a raccoon got inside a different Idaho Falls Power substation and temporarily knocked out power for more than 2,000 homes.
“Generally they’re pretty easy fixes and we get back up and going quickly,” Idaho Falls Power spokeswoman Joelyn Hansen said of the outages.
Idaho Falls Power estimates that animals caused 937 power outages between 2013 and 2017, with squirrels being responsible for around two-thirds of those, but animals are rarely involved in the large outages that affect thousands of homes.