Outages keep thousands in the dark along Wasatch Front; Sundance ski resort without power

Jan 2, 2023, 6:25 PM | Updated: 7:28 pm

SUNDANCE, Utah — Repair crews restored power to thousands of customers along the Wasatch Front on Monday after the latest winter storm’s heavy, wet snow caused extensive damage.

“This was a severe winter storm. Not the worst I’ve seen, but definitely in the top ten,” said Rocky Mountain Power spokesperson David Eskelsen. “We’ve seen a lot of whole trees come over this time around.”

The utility brought in extra crews from Idaho and southern Utah to help get the lights and heat back on at impacted homes in northern Utah. Nearly 150 field and support employees were working to fix the downed lines and other damage.

“We’re working as fast as we can to get all customers restored,” Eskelsen said.

During the peak of the outages on Sunday, the storm knocked out service for about 14,000 customers. By Monday evening, the number of customers still in the dark had improved significantly to around 1,500.

A power outage forced Sundance Mountain Resort to remain closed on Monday. The resort didn’t open on Sunday because of avalanche concerns.

“This is one of those storms that only comes every few decades,” said Chad Linebaugh, the resort’s president and general manager.

Sundance got more than 50 inches of snow from the storm, but Linebaugh said the water equivalent is what you’d normally get from 100 inches of snow.

“You could literally hear trees cracking and falling,” he said. “We’re thinking it’s literally hundreds of large pine trees that have come down in this canyon over the last 24 hours.”

Falling branches and trees caused extensive issues to power poles and lines in Provo Canyon, and the repair work is taking longer than expected.

“We brought in a two-megawatt generator to hook up and restore as many customers as we could,” Eskelsen said. “Unfortunately, that’s not a big enough generator for the resort to run its lifts.”

The portable generator allowed Sundance to power its restaurants and provide power to lodging facilities.

“We’re grateful for the water. We’re grateful for the snow. This is going to set us up to have a remarkable season,” Linebaugh said. “The downside is these couple of days are tough.”

Late Monday, the resort said that power may not be restored until Wednesday.

“We recognize the challenges this presents to many who want to be on the mountain and given the length of the anticipated outage and after further analysis of running one lift on diesel auxiliary power, we have decided to open Outlaw Express only with limited terrain to season pass holders, S Card holders and lodging guests tomorrow (Tuesday, Jan 3rd),” said a statement from Sundance.

The statement went on to say that no day passes will be available and that the beginner area will not be operating.

“With the limited terrain and single lift operating, lines will likely be long and we would encourage those who can wait to come once we have power restored and can operate all our lifts,” the statement said.

Rocky Mountain Power provided the following tips and safety precautions:

  • Stay away from all downed power lines and utility lines. Even if the lines are not sparking, they could be energized and extremely dangerous. Call 911 and report the outage to Rocky Mountain Power at 1-877-508-5088.
  • Don’t drive over downed power lines.
  • Maintain safe distances from workers. Repair work is being done under our COVID-19 safety protocols. Waves and acknowledgement are welcome, but please allow crews to do their work at an appropriate distance both for operational and COVID-19 safety.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially those who may need special assistance. Also, check with others who have electricity, to see if you can visit.
  • If you have power at this time, keep mobile devices charged so that may be used in an emergency. Before anything happens, download the Rocky Mountain Power app to your smart device so you can have information readily available.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for several hours. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours.
  • Remember your pets! Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy.
  • If you are using alternate heat or cooking sources, remember to allow plenty of ventilation. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors.
  • If you are using a generator, make sure to follow all manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure the generator is outside and not near any household air intakes. Do not connect the generator directly to your breaker box as this can create a dangerous situation for crews working on the powerlines. Instead, plug essential appliances directly into the generator.
  • More information on outages and emergency preparedness is available at Outages & Safety (rockymountainpower.net)

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Outages keep thousands in the dark along Wasatch Front; Sundance ski resort without power