Upper Arlington News

Electrical circuit, squirrels to blame for outages

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

A series of mishaps caused four power outages in Upper Arlington in the first two weeks of September.

On Sept. 5, 12 and 13, thousands of Upper Arlington residents living within the service area of an AEP Ohio electrical circuit on Kenny Road experienced power outages.

A Sept. 9 outage was caused by a squirrel jumping on a transformer at the substation on Bethel Road near Sawmill Road. AEP reported 6,100 outages by 8:30 p.m. that day.

And Monday night, Sept. 16, WBNS-10TV reported a squirrel caused a power outage at a Bethel Road substation, leaving 9,400 people without electricity at 7:30 p.m.

According to AEP, loss of power on Sept. 5, 12 and 13 was the result of three different incidents.

AEP Ohio spokeswoman Fay White said the Sept. 5 outage was caused by a local customer who dug into an underground primary power line. That resulted in 3,500 Upper Arlington residents losing power.

A week later, on Sept. 12, some 1,985 residents were without power for more than two hours for reasons that remain unknown, White said.

The following day, Sept. 13, 1,985 residents lost power again from just before noon to approximately 1:22 p.m.

White said the last incident was due to a broken cross arm on the Kenny Road circuit.

"These all have been in the same circuit," White said. "It's just been a variety of things."

On each occasion, the Upper Arlington Public Library's Main Branch at 2800 Tremont Road temporarily closed due to the outages.

"We kept the community informed as best we could," said Ruth McNeil, UAPL community relations manager. "We did that on our website and on our Facebook."

On Sept. 12 and 13, the library was closed all morning and access to its online catalog was cut off during that time. It closed from noon to 3 p.m. Sept. 13.

McNeil said the library stayed closed an hour after power was restored Sept. 13.

"We had to give an estimated time for when we would reopen and we wanted to make sure the trouble had passed," she said.

Throughout the three outages, the library's Miller Park and Lane Road branches remained open.

McNeil said that was a good thing for many regular patrons and those seeking refuge from the blackouts.

"When the library is closed, it's amazing," she said. "We are part of people's daily lives."

Chris Potts, executive director of business services for Upper Arlington schools, said Tremont and Barrington Elementary schools and Upper Arlington High School were without power Sept. 5 for about 1.5 hours. Hastings Middle School and Greensview Elementary School were without power for about four hours Sept. 9.

Potts said the high school and Barrington were without power again Sept. 12, but only for about 30 minutes.

"The district was in touch with AEP, who kept us informed of when it would be restored," he said. "This was not just a school issue but the surrounding community was affected as well."

Potts said the district buildings have battery backup that provides safety lighting, public address access and fire alarms, so classes continued and no schools were closed.

"The students and staff responded remarkably to the situation and proceeded with normal day activities," he said. "We value the working relationship we have with AEP and how responsive they are to the district's needs during these situations and we will continue to communicate with them as to why these outages are happening."

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