Baldwin City leader says substation repair should end recent power outages

Recent repairs at Baldwin City’s electrical substation are expected to put an end to a series of power outages that have plagued the community since late October, the city administrator said.

City Administrator Glenn Rodden said a faulty relay at the electrical substation near Seventh and Newton streets was replaced this past week. The city has experienced no outages since the relay was replaced, he said.

Rodden said the first power outage caused by the faulty relay occurred on Oct. 26 and lasted for about 25 minutes. There were also outages on Nov. 26, Nov. 28, Dec. 6, Dec. 19 and Dec. 23. Adding to the problems for the city, Rodden said the outages often occurred in the evening, overnight or on weekends when the city’s electrical crew was off work.

According to a post on the city’s website, the city brought in an outside electrical engineering firm to help find the source of the outages. The firm installed a temporary monitoring system, and in December it was able to pinpoint the faulty relay as the source of the power failures.

Rodden said the outages highlighted the need for the city to add a second substation. Many of the current substation’s components have been there since its construction in the 1990s, and Rodden said some of them would soon need to be replaced. He also said a second substation would reduce the power load through the single facility and provide redundancy if one of the substations experienced a failure or was damaged in a storm.

The city is having an engineering firm study the possibility of building a new substation north of U.S. Highway 56, Rodden said. He estimated a new substation would cost about $2.5 million, but said that was “a wild guess.”

“I’m not an electrical engineer,” he said. “But it will be costly.”

Whatever it might cost, Rodden said the addition of a second substation wouldn’t necessitate a rate increase for city electric customers. He said that because of the low cost of natural gas and renewable energy sources, the city’s electrical department had been doing well financially.


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