The Times West Virginian

January 31, 2014

Fairmont is hit by power outages

Damaged components may have been due to increased use from the high demand for heat

By Chelsi Baker
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — A power outage Thursday morning left many customers in Fairmont in the dark, and another occurred during the evening.

The first outage occurred at approximately 7:25 a.m., leaving 1,974 customers without electricity.

Workers found damaged components of lines running through substations on Fetty Avenue and Garden Lane in Fairmont that may have been due to increased use from the high demand for heat during this period of extreme cold, said MonPower spokesperson Todd Meyers.

“There is a lot of demand for power because people need to have heat,” he said. “Even for those who don’t have electric heaters, many furnaces have blower motors that run all the time. Whenever you have cold like this, you see increased power use.”

The 23,000-volt line feeds through both substations and comes out the other side at a lower voltage, carrying electricity into homes and businesses, he said.

Fairmont State University and Pierpont Community & Technical College campuses closed after losing power Thursday, and only essential employees reported for work. Fairmont State anticipates running on a normal schedule today, said Amy Pellegrin, director of marketing and branding.

Fairmont General Hospital employees reported flickering lights Thursday before the outage was reported, said Fairmont General marketing coordinator Dawn Metzgar.

She said the hospital lost power but was up and running shortly after with help from backup generators. Patient-care areas were unaffected, but doctors who have offices in the hospital had to cancel appointments due to lack of electricity.

After the lines were repaired, both substations worked properly and power was fully restored by approximately 1 p.m. Thursday, Meyers said.

Areas in Monroe County in the southern part of the state as well as the Keyser area were also without power Thursday morning, Meyers said.

An additional outage affected around 1,000 customers on the West Side of Fairmont at 6:15 p.m. Thursday.

Allen Staggers, spokesman for MonPower, said that the power was turned off to allow workers to make repairs to the line. Power was restored by 7:30 p.m.

Eighty customers within that area experienced an additional outage.

“We suspect it was due to cold-load pick-up, where everybody gets their power restored at the same time, and it temporarily overloads, and a fuse goes out,” Staggers said.

Power was restored to all affected customers by 9:30 p.m.

Email Chelsi Baker at cbaker@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @CBakerTWV.