Volume 105, Number 2 - January 10, 2008
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
Longtime residents downplay this one
Spending last Thursday without heat was nothing to complain about — why, you could barely even see your breath outside. Or so might say lifelong Pinedale resident Ward Wise, whose father served as the Pinedale area division manager for the town’s electricity providers until the early ‘90s. Without a second’s pause, Wise remembered Pinedale’s worst outage on New Year’s Day in 1978.
“The power was out for a long time — at least two days,” Wise said. “It was 60 below, so even if your vehicle was plugged into (an engine heater) before the electricity went out, it wouldn’t start.”
The power lines had frozen and broke in the extreme cold, he said, and his father bundled up to join the crew struggling to make repairs.
“I remember they were out in the storm, and they would come home and leave their vehicles running outside while they took a two or three hour nap,” Wise said. “Then they’d head right back out to where they were working. It was pretty brutal.”
He didn’t remember the Sheriff’s Department creating an emergency center, he added. “People just hunkered down and got through it,” he said.
His family would know how to get through it better than most. Ward’s grandfather operated the hydroelectric plant that powered Pinedale from the ‘30s through the ‘50s, when the town abandoned the plant and began relying on the county energy provider.
After that, Wise’s father remained in charge of Pinedale’s electricity as the county’s energy company faced constant corporate takeovers. Over the past few decades, Wise said, the county’s energy provider evolved from Lincoln Power to Utah Power to PacifCorp, owner of Rocky Mountain Power.
Bob McCarty, an Ace Hardware employee who lit Coleman lamps around Ridley’s during the blackout, boasted that after surviving the changing power providers in Pinedale for the past 21 years, he wasn’t even fazed by last week’s outage.
“This might be something to new residents, but people who have lived in Pinedale a long time remember much worse,” McCarty said. “Back when we got electricity from Lincoln Power, the power would be out for days. We used to call it Blinkin’ Linkin’.”
Pinedale’s electricity providers haven’t necessarily gotten better or worse, Wise said. They’ve all just done their best in the face of inevitable weather conditions.
“You’ve just got to be prepared and know that in this part of the country, (blackouts) can happen at any time,” Wise said. “Most people in this part of the country realize that. You just fire up your propane tank with a burner so you’ve got hot water, have plenty of batteries for your flashlight, and spend some time with the family playing board games.”
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