Herald JournalHerald Journal, Jan. 13, 2003

Waverly residents in the dark for 12 hours

By Lynda Jensen

Darkness enveloped the City of Waverly Tuesday, as a downed transformer caused a power outage that lasted 12 hours.

The power outage started shortly after noon, when an equipment failure caused the power to go out in a large part of the city, said Xcel spokesman Ed Legge.

"About 468 customers were without power," Legge said. There are 800 customers in Waverly, he said.

The transformer at the Waverly substation failed, Legge said. This happens occasionally because transformers are exposed to the elements and wear down over time, he said. "It's a rarity."

The amount of energy that flows through a tranformer equals 1.2 megawatts, with one megawatt powering 1,000 homes, he said.

Several organizations were notified, including the sheriff's office, the bank, the city, liquor store, and county civil defense.

Luckily, the temperatures registered unusually warm, around 52 degrees, during the course of the day.

Xcel crews converged at the Waverly Liquor Store parking lot to fix the problem. They were able to get power restored by 12:48 a.m.

A mobile unit was moved into place and is serving the electricity needs of residents for the time being.

Mobile units actually work better than the real thing, Legge said.

Xcel has not decided whether to repair the transformer yet. The mobile unit may be there for quite some time, he said.

Equipment failure on transformers happens about six times a year across the state, Legge said.

Sometimes lighting strikes a station, but won't bring it down until two weeks later, he said.

"It's a mechanical system," like a car, he said. The only exception is that transformers are exposed to the elements more, he said.


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