The City of Powell will have a series of two or three citywide power outages at night this week to allow crews to make repairs to the city’s damaged substation.
The planned outages will run from 12 a.m. to 4 a.m. early Wednesday morning, early Thursday morning and possibly again on Friday morning, said City Administrator Zack Thorington.
“Sorry for the inconvenience this will cause and thank you for your understanding,” Thorington said in a statement.
City officials notified utility customers of the plans by phone and email on Monday morning.
Powell Electrical Superintendent Steve Franck said the outages will allow contractors to remove old underground 15,000-volt conductors at the Vining Substation, which were the cause of the fault that led to a fire at the substation in June.
Forensic engineers determined the fault was somewhere in the cable, but the city won’t know precisely how the cables caused the problem on that fateful day until they pull them out during the planned repairs. All the city knows at this time is the short went to the breaker and voltage regulators, which caused an explosion that ignited oil in the regulators and caused the fire on June 29.
Workers will need to enter underground vaults, which have all the city’s electrical circuits running through them.
“The power needs to be turned off to safely perform the work,” Franck said.
While the city has been in the some of the highest average temperatures of the summer season — when many residents rely on air conditioning — Franck said the work needed to be done now, with the city still running on a damaged system.
“On the hottest days, our system is struggling without having all of the significant pieces of the substation in operation,” Franck said.
With temperatures at night falling into the 50s, he said it will be cooler for city residents when they’re without any power.
After the series of nightly outages, the substation is expected to be back to normal. Any further outages would be minor, Franck said.
Last week, the city energized some new equipment inside the substation, which Franck said is a milestone in the effort to repair the facility.
The repairs are roughly estimated to cost $210,000 and they’re expected to be covered by the city’s insurance, Thorington said. If the work hadn’t been covered, the money would have needed to come from the city’s enterprise funds, which are funded by revenues generated by the electrical service.
The June 29 fire left the entire city without power for several hours. The city experienced another outage on July 24 as a result of the damaged substation, when the system became overloaded during high afternoon temperatures.