Power shutoff watch issued for portion of Iron County

Jun 17, 2022, 6:53 PM | Updated: 8:59 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Rocky Mountain Power on Friday issued a public safety power shutoff watch for a portion of Iron County due to high winds and dangerous wildfire conditions.

“As a safety precaution, electricity could be turned off in wildfire high risk areas during extreme weather events for public safety in an effort to prevent a fast-moving, hard to fight wildfire,” the utility said on its website. “The measure would only be used as a last resort to help ensure community safety. “

The shutoff watch is for an area on the south end of Cedar City and remains in effect through Saturday. A team of meteorologists is monitoring wind gusts and will determine if an outage is necessary.

“What we want to do is make sure that our system is not the cause of igniting a wildfire, and so we bring in meteorologist on staff and we’re constantly monitoring, 24/7 around the clock conditions that are on the ground,” said RMP spokesperson Tiffany Erickson.

Erickson said the utility has never done a proactive power outage before, but that they came very close on Friday afternoon.

“Weather is one of the biggest factors impacting our system when it comes to outages, and especially wind,” she said. “So when you see gusting, that’s when you see lines hitting together, trees in lines, sometimes lines down.”

Some of the power grid in Utah has been switched over to wildfire settings, Erickson said. The setting makes it so that when something comes into contact with a power line, like a branch or debris blowing through the air, the power will shut off in a tenth of a second.

“We are taking additional safety precautions by directing additional personnel and resources to monitor the weather impact on our system,” the watch notification said.

Rocky Mountain Power is alerting customers of the potential proactive power outages and urging them to be prepared.

Erickson said customers should be aware that the any outages this weekend could last longer than normal because the lines have to be inspected before being reenergized.

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Power shutoff watch issued for portion of Iron County