Power outage hits many

By Bob Buckel | Published Wednesday, January 23, 2013

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Residents and businesses from Tarrant County all the way to Wichita Falls lost power Sunday afternoon after a lightning arrester near Eagle Mountain Lake was damaged.

The call came in around 4 p.m. according to Sabrina Easley, Oncor’s Community Manager for Wise County. By 6:20 p.m. the last customer was back up, she said. About 10,000 meters in Wise County and thousands of others up and down the line were also without power while the equipment was repaired.

“I got the first phone call from the city of Rhome,” Easley said. “They said the whole town of Rhome was out. Then before I could get off the phone with her, the city of Decatur called that the whole city of Decatur was out.”

Easley said the only thing that correlates those two is the 138,000-KV Eagle Mountain transmission line, which originates at the Eagle Mountain Power Plant on the east side of Eagle Mountain Lake, and goes all the way to Wichita Falls, feeding into substations at Rhome, Decatur and Alvord along the way.

Easley said several patrols were immediately dispatched to look for the problem, and it didn’t take long for them to find it.

“What they found was a damaged lightning arrester, similar to a surge protector you would have on your house,” she said. “It picks up any surge that would come through the line – specifically lightning, but can be from pole falling, a car hitting a pole, whatever. Once they found it, they were able to restore power.”

Easley said the line also serves some Brazos Electric customers and co-ops as well, including Wise Electric Co-op and probably Tri-County Electric Co-op.

“We don’t know what caused it to trip,” she said. “It could have been from the last storm – sometimes they just take a little bit of time to fail. They will sometimes sit up there for two or three weeks and run before they trip.”

City of Decatur water plant director Doyle Green said the city’s water plant was out for about an hour and 45 minutes – but because of the time of day there was no problem.

“Our storages were all full for the day and the pumps were shut down,” Green said. “We have standby generators that come on and power up the plant, but the plant was not in operation at that time. It was kind of widespread, but it didn’t last too long, thank goodness.”

Wise Regional Health System’s marketing & communications director Shannon Puphal said Wise Regional Health System did not lose power to either of its Decatur campuses.

They did, however, lose TV as the cable provider lost service. On the Sunday afternoon of the NFC and AFC playoff games, some might call that a disaster – but the hospital took it in stride.

Puphal said Wise Regional has two backup generators at the East Campus and two on the West Campus.

“We could go for about four days on what we’ve got,” she said.

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