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Roy residents frustrated after RMP cuts power during heatwave for 8 hours

Posted at 10:36 PM, Jul 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-10 00:40:44-04

ROY, Utah — Rocky Mountain Power is explaining why thousands of customers in Roy unexpectedly spent more than eight hours without any power during an intense heatwave and 100-degree temperatures.

READ: Utah may set all-time temperature record this weekend

Customers tell Fox 13 RMP called this a "planned" outage but gave them no warning or time to prepare it.

Neighbors living near the 3500 West 5600 South substation have been planning for the heatwave. They knew triple-digit temps were coming, and they were ready -- or so they thought.

More than 3,000 people didn't plan for it like this: No power the entire day, no way to cool off from the scorching heat, and no understanding of why RMP cut power in the first place.

Wendy and Mike Costello said the first electricity outage awoke them early Friday morning.

"At 6:30 this morning, both of our CPAPs stopped working," Costello recounted.

That outage was a complete surprise, including to Rocky Mountain Power.

A Rocky Mountain Power spokesperson told Fox 13 that sudden equipment failure caused damage, leading to issues at the Roy substation. Crews quickly got to work, and Costello said power was restored mid-morning.

But then Costello described a second phone call with RMP when the power again went out sometime after 1 pm.

"The power company stated that it would be out when I called, until about 9 pm," she explained. "Meanwhile there's about $1500 worth of insulin that my husband's dependent on."

Wendy and Mike took the insulin to their son's house nearby, in order to keep it cool. They also planned to hang out at their son's house to escape the heat.

But they were bothered when they said Rocky Mountain Power told them the outage was "planned."

"I find that hard to believe in the middle of the heatwave, that they would choose that time to do routine maintenance," Costello said.

Mary and John Mizell, who live near the Costellos, had the same thought. Mary is on oxygen, and she described how she was burning through batteries to power the machine.

"It's on my second battery, and the other one is already out," she said.

The couple also wanted to know why this could possibly have been "planned."

Rocky Mountain Power explained that the first unplanned outage led to planning the second one hours later. They said that crews needed to make repairs ASAP to avoid more damage, and could not wait until the evening when temperatures would be cooler. The company described sending out automated messages to customers as soon as the outage was planned.

One customer shared emails with Fox 13 that show RMP reached out at 1:13 pm -- right about when the outage took place. Someone else described getting an automated phone call not long before that.

RMP said it understands the inconvenience and appreciates everyone's patience.

The power company also stressed the importance of being prepared to last without electricity for at least 72 hours should an emergency happen during extreme heat or cold.

Neighbors reported that power was restored at 9:15 pm, about 8 hours from when the second outage began. The power then went out again around 10 pm.

John Mizell has been through Vietnam and knows what it's like to deal with extreme heat.

"130 degrees -- that's what the Armed Forces radio said one time, whenever I was digging a foxhole," he remembered.

But John agreed, that no power is miserable -- no matter how much one plans for it.

"I’m older now," he said. "And it feels hot."