Cheney Free Press -



Outage traced to lucky driver


Somewhere out there is a Systems Transport driver who is lucky to be alive. At least Cheney Light Department Director Joe Noland thinks so.

Late last Friday afternoon, Cheney and other nearby areas of the West Plains went dark due to a power outage caused when a Systems Transport boom truck’s boom made contact with a 115,000-volt main feeder cable from which Cheney receives 99 percent of its power. The truck, ironically loaded with wooden power poles, was under the transmission line when the operator decided to raise the boom, striking the line and shorting out a transformer downstream at Cheney’s Four Lakes Substation.

Noland, who showed pictures of the truck to City Council members at their May 27 meeting, said compounding the problem was the operator didn’t immediately report the incident. Eventually crews from Avista tracked down the problem, but discovered the line belonged to the Bonneville Power Administration, which required one of its crews to come out and repair the line.

Noland said after some back and forth discussion, Avista allowed Cheney to hook up to a feeder line from Colfax, restoring power to the city after three hours. Cheney was on the Colfax line for 4-5 hours until the BPA line was repaired, and then switched back.

The truck sustained minor damage, mainly blown tires. The driver of the truck fared the best.

“He’s lucky to be alive,” Noland said.

John McCallum can be reached at


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