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Oxford Power Outage Caused By Faulty Lightning Arrester

Around 7:30 on Thursday night, almost 17,000 people were without power after Oxford Electric and Northeast Power’s shared substation on Old Taylor Road lost eight circuits due to a faulty lightning arrester, according to Superintendent Robert Neely. 
“It appears that the fault came from a failed lighting arrester, which are around the substation to prevent a surge of electricity during a lightning storm,” Neely said. “Normally, they last around 30-40 years, and it’s a piece of equipment that you can’t maintain. They sit there in their spot, and they work. When they stop working, they fail, and in this instance, it caused a mass outage.”
Noticeably missing last night was the element of lightning. Neely noted that they believe it was a failure due to moisture infiltration. 
“We feel that the arresters were well within their useful life, so it came as a surprise that they would fail so soon,” Neely said. 
Oxford Electric has 16 circuits around town, eight of which went down last night. The issue for Neely and his staff is that the arrester is still in place. They are currently working to figure out ways to replace the faulty equipment without causing another outage.
“You have to essentially turn off the substation to replace it, so we’re in the process of trying to figure out if there’s a way to do it while everything is “hot” and everyone is still being served. If we have to turn off the substation, we would pick up loads at our other substations and serve the customers from there, so people don’t see an outage,” Neely said.  
Neely mentioned that Oxford Electric had just learned of the faulty arrester, and they are now working as quickly as possible to resolve the issue. 
“It may only take an hour or so,” Neely said. “What we want to do is get it changed as quickly as possible to avoid another major outage.” 

Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at steven.gagliano@hottytoddy.com.
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