(GOSHEN, ID) — A massive power outage has left over 50-thousand customers in the dark today. Rocky Mountain Power says just after 5am this morning they had to interrupt service to over 49-thousand Idaho customers because of a technical problem at the substation near Firth. A circuit breaker in that substation was out due to maintenance this week. The frigid weather this morning caused a strain on the transmission system that could have possibly created an even larger-scale outage. Because of this, transmission regulations required Rocky Mountain Power to interrupt service to customers until stability for the system could be assured. This was done as a precautionary measure, not because of an overload. Fall River Electric spokesman Ted Austin says both Falls River Electric and Idaho Power were requested by Bonneville Power Administration to transfer around 50-percent of their power to Rocky Mountain Power to help ease the stress. That affected several thousand customers from Ririe to West Yellowstone. Residents with power are being asked to conserve your power throughout the day to help ease the load and transfer process. Run your thermostat a tad lower. Try not to run as many electronic devices.
There are reports of several areas coming back on line. Rigby, Firth and Menan are some of these areas that have been affected since early this morning. Rocky Mountain Power estimates that it would take 4-to-6 hours to fix the problem and return service to all customers. Hopefully before that.
Several area businesses in Idaho Falls have opened their doors to those who need to get warm: The Domestic Violence Intervention Center at 1050 Memorial Drive, the LDS Church on the corner of Holmes and Sunnyside in Idaho Falls are just a couple. Also, Parkwood Meadows Assisted Living is offering a place for anyone who wants to come and get warm. They have warm drinks and snacks. They are at 1885 Parkwood Street, which is the corner of Hoopes and Parkwood.
Local hotels are also offering lower rated rooms so people can get out of a cold home. In Idaho Falls, The Shilo Inn can be reached at 523-0088 and Le Ritz Hotel & Suites is at 522-0880. Guesthouse Inn and Suites at 523-6260, and Candlewood Suites at 525-9800.
Schools that are canceled are:
* Teton School District will be closing at noon
* Idaho State University’s Idaho Falls campus
* University of Idaho’s Idaho Falls campus
* Four schools in Idaho Falls School District: Fox Hollow and West Side elementary schools, Eagle Rock Middle School, and Skyline High School. ( Other schools are still open)
* Brigham Young University-Idaho until 12:45 p.m.
* Shelley School District
* Firth School District
* Bonneville School District
* West Jefferson School District
* White Pine Charter in Ammon
Lois M. Collins, Deseret News
Adam Forsgren, EastIdahoNews.com Columnist