• Last modified 682 days ago (July 11, 2020)


City denies fault for blackout extending to 9¼ hours

An intentional blackout that was supposed to have ended at 7 a.m. Saturday continued for a total of 9¼ hours, cutting power to much of the downtown business district. Power was restored at 12:15 p.m..

City officials blamed the extended blackout on workers from Funk Electric having what the city described as "a parts failure."

"This is not a city outage," city administrator Roger Holter said.

Progress originally was slowed because a lightning storm. When workers re-energized lines, power arced because insulation had been nicked, Holter said.

Workers were sent in two directions to get replacement parts, while Marion city employees helped remove old wires, he said.

The first official indication of problems came at 8:30 a.m., 1½ hours after the blackout was to have ended, when the city posted to a social media account that the contractor was continuing to work on underground wiring for the Marion County waste transfer station, now under construction.

According to Holter, the county wants to bury overhead power lines near a city electric substation to protect transfer station workers.

The city's announcement of plans for the blackout Friday morning said power would be out from 3 to 7 a.m. to finish installing a buried line and to allow city workers to replace fuses in the city substation.

Downtown businesses either closed or pressed on without power Saturday morning. Lanning Pharmacy used its recently installed backup generator. Central National Bank could not use its computers or the drawer at its drive-up window but was accepting transactions without power at a walkup window.

Only two days ago, city power failed in some areas because a tree limb fell on power lines at the north end of Elm St. It also failed five days ago when a fuse in what is known as a regulatory bank blew; that blackout also had begun as intentional for work at the transfer station, which has seen massive cost overruns. A blown fuse took out power four days before that.

A damaging blackout June 5 resulted in half power that burned out some air conditioners and other appliances in town; tt was blamed on a connector near the substantion that either was not installed properly or failed. A blackout a few days before that was blamed on use of buried cable near the substation that wasn't sufficiently moisture-resistant in an area that flooded after heavy rain.

Last modified July 11, 2020