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Winds Could Worsen Widespread Power Outages

Amy Radil
01/20/2012

Puget Sound Energy officials say snow and slush continued to hinder the efforts of work crews today. By the company's latest count it currently has 230,000 customers without power, a modest improvement from this morning. But the forecast for high winds means those numbers could get worse before they get better. KUOW's Amy Radil reports.

TRANSCRIPT

Power outages are still widespread with tens of thousands of customers out of power in Olympia, Kent, Federal Way and Auburn. Puget Sound Energy's (PSE) latest numbers indicate there are 230,000 customers without power, down 24,000 from the estimate released this morning.

Company spokesperson Andy Wappler says the weather has turned, but there's still a lot of aftermath.

Wappler: "Now that the ice and snow storm has stopped that is helping. But we do have a problem, there's still a lot of snow and slush, a lot of tough going in many places."

PSE customers with Internet access kept up a lively conversation on the company's Facebook page. Many expressed their thanks and willingness to feed any crews that came into their neighborhood. But many customers were frustrated by what they said was a lack of information. The service map they were referred to does not provide any time estimates for power to be restored at specific locations. Customers also complained of technical difficulties when they tried to call or report outages online.

Spokesperson Andy Wappler admits the company has had technical difficulties due to the high volume of calls. He says the systems should be back up and running. But he warns that tonight's forecast for high winds could bring new challenges. He says more people could lose power.

Wappler: "Part of the issue with that of course is, we don't really know how some of these trees will do given the fact that many of them still have ice and snow on them. So we'll be watching the weather tonight and there is a chance that that weather could cause new problems tonight, but we're staffed up, we think we're ready to deal with them."

He says PSE has 100 crews in the field today, with 60 more scheduled to arrive tonight and an additional 60 on Saturday. But Wappler estimates that the job of getting power back up could last into early next week.

I'm Amy Radil, KUOW News.

© Copyright 2012, KUOW

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