For the second time in nearly as many weeks, power outages on Cleveland’s west side forced one Ohio City business to toss in the trash thousands of dollars’ worth of product. As frustration grows out of the seemingly frequent outages on the west side, Cleveland Public Power officials said Wednesday that repairs to a backup transmission line are nearing completion.
Tuesday’s scattered outages, which were caused by downed tree limbs, follow a massive, hours long outage on August 11 that left 40,000 in the dark for more than five hours. In the fallout from the outage, CPP divulged that a backup transmission line that services much of the west side had been inoperable since December 2016. CPP officials said at a press conference on August 13 that repairs on the backup transmission line began shortly after the transmission line went offline and would be complete by the end of September.
The $6 million project remains on schedule, officials said. Because Tuesday’s outages were caused by downed tree limbs, the backup transmission line being offline had no bearing on the length of the outages, a spokesperson for CPP said.
Nevertheless, the outage left Vytauras Sasnaukas, the co-owner of Citizen Pie, beyond frustrated again.
“Sometimes I feel like I live in the wild, wild west or Siberia or Somolia or the tip of the mountain,” said Sasnaukas, a native of Lithuania. “You look around and see people who have other providers that aren’t CPP and they don’t have issues. We consistently lose power.”
Sasnaukas, who lived in Lithuania during Soviet occupation, said he had fewer power outages growing up than he’s had in his time in Cleveland. He said in the first year that his restaurant’s Ohio City location has been open, there have been at least a dozen outages, some of them lasting hours on end.
When those outages happen, many of Sasnaukas’ high-quality, fresh products, including cheeses, meats and sauces, have to be thrown in the trash. Anytime certain ingredients lose temperature, it increases the risk that certain bacteria can grow.
“We have to toss everything in the garbage and start over again. I’m talking about everything including the cheese, the sauces, the pesto, everything that goes on top of the pizza. We make everything from scratch here. If I get big shipments of, let’s say, mozzarella cheese, and if I lose power and cheese loses temperature, I have to basically toss it and start over.”
Tossing out just the cheese, for example, costs Sasnaukas at least $3000, he said.
The major outage on Aug. 11 cost Sasnaukas an estimated $25,000 in lost product and revenue, he said. The outage happened on a Saturday when xhis restaurant was packed.
“We need refrigeration. We need lights. We need the credit card processing machine,” Sasnaukas said. ”It was a rough night because we have to let employees go home. We lost the revenue. Employees lost the tips. We lost the product.”
A CPP spokesperson also said a separate backup transmission line project should be complete by the first quarter of 2019. That project is expected to connect the east and west side backup transmission lines, creating a complete loop. This would create even more redundancies, officials said. The cost of that project is $18 million.