P.O. Box 500
1492 Wind River Hwy
Carson, Washington 98610

Pay by Phone: 877-885-7968
Phone: 509-427-5126
Toll-Free 800-922-5329

Manager’s Message December – January 2015

In our tech savvy world we have all gotten a new gismo – whether toy or tool.  Excited to commission the amazing widget, we jump into the driver’s seat, fire it up and take it for a spin.  By common sense and feel we figure out the main functions ignoring the details at first.  As we get more familiar with the form and function we realize there are some quirks that don’t make sense and may be down-right irritating.  Reluctantly we open the owner’s manual or Google the gismo to see if we can neutralize the annoyances.  Low and behold the quirks are designed into the system!  Once we understand their function and purpose, they become tolerable; we may even begin to appreciate them.

The Electric Power System is one of the most sophisticated gismos of our time.  Yet it is so common place and reliable that we take it for granted.  At the same time we are so thoroughly dependent on it that a power outage can completely derail our day.  The system comes with no operators manual.  When it is not operating as expected, you simply call the PUD.

What is normal operation and when should you call the PUD?  What about those annoying power flickers?  Power is off for a couple of seconds and then right back on – maybe even 2 or 3 times in a row.  Or, you wake up to realize you missed your alarm and every digital clock in the house is flashing.  Maybe you just settled into your cozy recliner after a long day to catch the game or check your Facebook when one of those annoying flickers resets your cable controller and Wi-Fi connection.  You may cuss the power blip but actually that is normal power system operation and it prevented a prolonged outage.

Here is how it works.  Most power system short circuits are what we call temporary faults – lightning strikes, a limb falls across the line and then falls clear, or a squirrel gets in the wrong spot.  (Ooouch; really bad for the squirrel!)  The power system senses the short circuit and opens the circuit breaker.  Assuming the problem is temporary, the circuit breaker “recloses” automatically after a brief delay.  If the controller senses the short circuit is still present, the circuit breaker opens again and repeats the sequence up to 3 times.  If the short circuit remains after the third “reclose”, the circuit breaker opens and remains open because the fault is permanent – a tree across the line or wires on the ground.  The system is de-energized until the PUD crew identifies the problem and makes repairs.  This type of control scheme is designed to minimize the number of sustained outages and prevent hazard to the public.  Those pesky power blips are the power system at work keeping the lights on.  They are a power system design feature you probably would not appreciate until after you “read the operators manual.”  I hope this is helpful since storm season started early this year with that nasty blow-and-snow in mid November.

Brent Bischoff
General Manager