Independence transformer repair won’t hit ratepayers

Mike Genet

Independence Power & Light will not have to pay for the necessary repairs for a malfunction that caused Saturday’s short but widespread power outage in the southwest area.

Nearly 5,000 IPL customers lost power Saturday afternoon after a mechanical failure at a substation transformer. The outage lasted a little more than an hour, as crews were able to realign circuits and restore power.

“One of the benefits of our system – we have a robust distribution and were able to spread the load to other substations,” said Jim Nail, IPL’s general manager.

Nail said the repair is covered under warranty, and repair crews from the manufacturer were on site earlier this week.

The outage covered an area generally from 23rd Street to Interstate 70 and from Noland Road west to Blue Ridge Boulevard. Power & Light has more than a dozen substations, and the culprit transformer was at substation E, off Northern Boulevard near 35th Street.

“Most of the substations have two transformers, and in this case the other one of that pair is out for scheduled maintenance,” Nail said. The one that malfunctioned Saturday received scheduled maintenance earlier this year, Nail said, and tested fine when it came back.

“It was an intermittent failure,” Nail said. “You could test and test and it will be fine, and then it fails.

“The crew (on site) actually saw it trip, and they immediately shifted to realign the circuit.”

In the spring, as Independence city officials scrambled to adjust the upcoming fiscal year budget amid the pandemic, the City Council voted to go with more than $2.8 million in construction and material costs to replace an aging substation that most directly serves Centerpoint Medical Center and Independence Center, among other places. Nail said that substation had no bearing on Saturday’s outage.