Transformer failure to blame for power outage

QCS photo: Thomas Garcia Tucumcari Police Officer Abel Cullum directs traffic at the intersection of South First Street and Route 66. A power outage left Tucumcari without power for 40 minutes and Clovis' power was out for over two hours.

QCS photo: Thomas Garcia
Tucumcari Police Officer Abel Cullum directs traffic at the intersection of South First Street and Route 66. A power outage left Tucumcari without power for 40 minutes and Clovis’ power was out for over two hours.

By Emily Crowe
CMI staff writer

A transformer failure is to blame for Tuesday morning’s power outage affecting nearly 20,000 customers in Clovis, Texico, Farwell and Tucumcari, according to Xcel Energy spokesman Wes Reeves.

“We had a transformer failure in our Curry County interchange near Clovis,” Reeves said, “But the cause of that failure has not been identified.”

Clovis Fire Department Chief Ray Westerman said firefighters responded to a small fire at an electrical transformer located at Norris and Brady streets.

The outage began at 9:15 a.m., and Reeves said power was restored to most customers by 10:30 a.m.

While most Clovis schools lost power, everything was up and running at each school by 10:45 a.m., according to Jody Balch, deputy superintendent of operations for the district.

Balch said one school had a fire evacuation during the power issues because a student pulled the fire alarm in the building.

“We did not have any issues,” said John Sharp, director of support services at Plains Regional Medical Center. “We experienced a power glitch. I think the main campus was back up and running within 15 to 20 seconds at the most.”

The short-term outage in Quay County did not warrant the activation of a back-up power generator in Tucumcari, said Reeves.

Reeves said Xcel crews were able to reroute power through a different system to restore power to Tucumcari within an hour of the outage. He said the time it took to reroute power was the same amount of time it would have taken to fire up the generator and switch to the backup system.

The backup system is a 23-megawatt generator powered by a combustion turbine located at the company’s Campbell Street substation in north Tucumcari. The turbine was moved from its existing facility at Borger, Texas, last summer.

Reeves said while the generator is designed to match and exceed Tucumcari’s electricity demand in case power to the city is cut off. He said it wouldn’t be used in short-term situations like the most recent outage.

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