Town of Oak Creek still running on a generator
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Oak Creek’s power grid is still running on a generator after lightning hit a transformer Friday, June 26.
Town Administrator Chris Johnson said they replaced the transformer but are still working to acquire hard-to-find fuses that are a special size — given Oak Creek’s relatively small grid and small substation.
They’ve been searching across the country to find them, Johnson said, but also have them on special order. However, they will still take another three to four weeks to arrive.
When they brought the power back on after the initial outage, Johnson said, other parts failed.
“It was a perfect storm of things that went bad — an unfortunate and unexpected event that we could never have predicted — to have all things break at once,” Johnson said.
The town has exhausted its inventory of spare parts and is now working to replenish it.
Oak Creek residents are still being urged to conserve energy, Johnson said. On Friday, the generator ran out of fuel, and there was a short power outage. Johnson attributes that to more energy being used because of the hot weather — on fans, window air conditioning units and refrigeration systems that have to work harder.
“We all have a role to play, and conserving energy and water is something we can all do,” Johnson wrote in a social media post. “We are asking everyone to do what you can to help us keep the power on in town.”
If you don’t need an appliance on, turn it off, he urges. Charge only one device at a time and use less water, so the wastewater treatment plant doesn’t have to work as hard.
The generator is refueled daily with approximately 600 to 700 gallons of diesel gasoline. With Friday’s outage, Johnson said the generator required 900 gallons.
In addition to the outage and conservation request, other impacts to residents include additional noise for those living closest to the generator, which is located at the turnoff to Twenty Mile Road.
The town decided to go on its own grid about two or three decades ago, Johnson said, and as a result, has more autonomy and, on average, lower rates. And he said the town has never seen a series of events like this since then.
The town partners with the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska, a member-driven coalition of four organizations based in Lincoln, Nebraska, serving nearly 200 member communities in six Midwest and Rocky Mountain states, according to its website.
Johnson said the town’s insurance claim should cover the transformer and labor costs, and the Nebraska-based agency will reimburse some of the costs, including fuel. He said he is anticipating getting reimbursement for about 90% of the cost.
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