Park City sales went dark as windstorm knocked out power
As parts of Park City lost electricity during a terrible windstorm in February, something else went dark: sales at businesses along Main Street.
A month after the winds blew through Park City, Main Street’s leadership drafted a memo detailing the financial impact of the storm. The losses were heavy at some businesses along Main Street, the memo says, indicating that one business, a restaurant, lost more than $50,000 as a result of the power outage.
Alison Kuhlow-Butz, the executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance, sent the memo to City Hall on March 15. The memo says power was disrupted to some businesses for longer than one day. The memo details the impact on seven businesses and says the electrical problems impacted others as well.
The $50,000 in losses at the restaurant is the most dramatic illustration outlined in the memo, but it also covers other businesses representing a range of sectors. The memo says there was a broader financial impact than a loss of sales as money was spent on equipment repairs.
A restaurant-coffee shop told the Historic Park City Alliance the outage caused a problem with a walk-in freezer, forcing the business to purchase dry ice. The business said once the power was restored "they blew the mother boards on two of my espresso machines (that had survived the first go round of their repairs) when they returned service."
Another business, a lodging property, said two elevators remained out of service "for longer than the power was out requiring service calls to re-start at a cost of approximately $300." An elevator was out of service for longer than a week, according to the memo. It cost $2,000 to repair, the memo says, adding that it cost another $4,000 to repair the fire-sprinkler system.
One T-shirt shop reported losses of approximately $3,500 while another one said the losses were upward of $2,300. An art gallery said it was unable to conduct business over a two-day period.
"Many businesses experienced more than one day with power disruption . . . There are a number of businesses that are not on the list, but were negatively impacted by the power disruption," the memo says.
The memo, meanwhile, says the Historic Park City Alliance would like better communications with Rocky Mountain Power. It says a reset of the power system on Friday night caused additional issues along Main Street with outages lasting between 30 minutes and two hours. The memo says businesses prefer work occur "during the middle of the night."
The owner of two restaurants on Main Street described in an interview the issues during the outage, saying $55,000 in sales were lost between the two places and another $3,000 was spent on repairs. Steve McComb, who owns Bistro 412 and Cisero’s Ristorante, said a mechanical motor that powers the exhaust fan in the kitchen at Bistro 412 was destroyed after Rocky Mountain Power restored only partial power to the building. McComb said the restaurants were closed or operated with limited hours between Thursday and Monday afternoon.
"It’s a lot of money. This is not chump change," McComb said, noting that the outage occurred during a busy period of the ski season.
The outages occurred during an extreme weather event that whipped through Park City. The National Weather Service said at the time a wind gust of 89 mph was recorded at Jupiter Peak while a 56 mph gust was logged at the lower-elevation Quinn’s Junction. The storm struck on Feb. 18, a Thursday.
City Hall said at the time a transformer on a power pole caught fire in the vicinity of the intersection of Park Avenue and 5th Street, causing an electrical outage that included Main Street. There was a second issue that also led to outages in Old Town. At one point during the storm, Rocky Mountain Power said 1,239 customers inside Park City were impacted by an outage.
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The Park City Police Department on Saturday, May 8, received at least three complaints from businesses in the Main Street core. In one of the cases, a customer was outside “causing a scene,” according to department logs.