Gunshot May Have Caused Wednesday’s Power Outage


By Paul Johnson

Shoshone, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KSVT-TV ) - Idaho Power crews say they spent 13 hours making repairs to a main transmission line northeast of Shoshone Wednesday. It turns out that the broken wire that fell to the ground may have been weakened by a gunshot, officials say. A statement from Idaho Power said, “It’s rare, but we have seen this kind of unfortunate vandalism before. It’s very costly and a huge inconvenience. The outage affected 17,000 customers in the Fairfield, Picabo, Hailey and Ketchum areas.”

Two transmission lines feed power into Hailey and the Wood River Valley. They are each capable of providing energy in the event that one is out of service – called redundancy. One of the two lines – that runs from Hagerman to Hailey – was scheduled to be out of service Wednesday afternoon for planned maintenance.

When the planned outage was taken, all the electricity load for the Wood River Valley was shifted to the other line, which runs from Shoshone to Hailey. Electricity is hot and that additional electric load heated up the line to the point where the damaged section melted and fell to the ground, taking the other wires and cross-arms with it.

The damage occurred in Lincoln County and Idaho Power will work with law enforcement officials to further investigate the damage and when it occurred. It could have been days or weeks ago that it the suspected shot occurred and may have held together by just a couple strands, but the additional heat on that line caused it to break.

The power outage began at 2:40 p.m. and was restored about an hour later when the first line was brought back online from its scheduled outage. Crews replaced cross-arms and wire through the night and had the second line back in service at 3:50 a.m. Thursday.
Idaho Power officials ask that if anyone saw suspicious activity, they contact the Lincoln County Sheriff’s office. If an investigation identifies a responsible party, Idaho Power say they could seek to recover costs associated with repairing the damage.

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