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  • Last modified 52 days ago (Aug. 5, 2021)

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Demand, raccoon, branch blamed

Staff writer

An electricity failure Thursday shut off power to a large portion of downtown and nearby neighborhoods.

City officials blame the power failure on a raccoon, a tree branch, and high demand triggered by the day’s temperature, which the National Weather Service said reached 97 degrees.

City administrator Roger Holter said that on a typical day, circuit 2 uses 500 kilowatts.

On that afternoon, it was using almost three times as much electricity as normal.

Economic development director Randy Collett said residents needed to reduce demand Thursday.

“The outages were primarily the fault of electrical usage demand that exceeded system capabilities,” Collett said. “The circuit experiencing the issues was trying to deliver 2½ times the normal power needed, which caused all safety circuit breakers to trip.”

A raccoon climbed a power pole near the sewer lagoon and was electrocuted, adding to the city’s woes.

A branch off the intersection of Walnut and Jefferson Sts. also contacted the 2,400-volt line, Holter said.

Holter said city crews trim tree branches to prevent that from happening, and also hires out-of-town tree trimmers. Branches were trimmed by the out-of-town contractors as recently as May, he said.

“The whole circuit was checked and they trimmed out all the areas that needed trimmed,” he said.

Circuit 2 doesn’t have regulators, Holter said.

Although Evergy in 2019 insisted on the most restrictive circuit breakers between its system and the city’s, Holter said none of Evergy’s breakers were tripped Thursday.

Business owners who lost power Thursday said the power went off, turned back on, and went off again as many as three times.

Holter said workers had to go out and resolve one problem at a time instead of bringing all the power back on the circuit at once.

“Our crews made contact with electrical sub-station and switch gear engineers and temporarily set the circuits to the highest available power settings without risking total catastrophic failure in the system,” Collett said.

Holter said the city is working to move some businesses along the south side of Main St. to a different circuit to help alleviate demand.

“I’m trying to move all of the commercial customers on the south from Marion Auto Parts to Central National Bank to a different circuit,” he said.

Electricity loss is normal in any month. Holter said in a recent month, the city lost 56,851 kWhs total, not simply on circuit 2.

Last modified Aug. 5, 2021

 

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