Power outage is explained

Spare transformer malfunctioned

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A power outage at the west Sparta substation Nov. 19 caused all of the city of Sparta and a large portion of White County to be without power for approximately an hour-and-a-half.

According to Belva Bess, manager of Sparta Electric System, the spare transformer the city had been using since Nov. 7, when they disconnected their main transformer for maintenance, went out.

“The spare transformer went out this morning [Nov. 19] causing the outage,” Bess explained.  “We had to switch back to our main transformer in order to restore power.”

Bess explained that since the city of Sparta and Caney Fork Electric Cooperative share a substation, when one transformer goes out, it causes all service to the substation to be disrupted.

“Caney Fork was out because we had to shut the feed from TVA [Tennessee Valley Authority] down,” she said.

Bess said that the maintenance and testing of the main transformer had been completed on Nov. 18, just a day before the system-wide outage. She went on to say they have a diagnostic appointment for the spare transformer scheduled for Nov. 23.

“The spare transformer will have to be evaluated to see what caused the failure,” she said, adding that the nearly-million-dollar transformers are close to 40 years old. “We’ve got a guy coming to the substation to break it apart and look at the oil content and see what went wrong with it.”

Bess contacted TVA to make arrangements for a back-up transformer in the event of an emergency in the time it takes to repair the city’s spare transformer.

“We always keep a backup [transformer] as a spare, and, since we no longer have a spare at this point, I’ve called TVA,” Bess said, explaining she has an emergency number to reach a TVA representative 24/7.  “They can deploy one – probably in an hour and 45 minutes – and it would take us awhile to switch over, but at least we have a backup plan.”      

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