22,000 lose power in line failure

An apparently worn or broken insulator on a subtransmission line in Richmondville was blamed for kno

An apparently worn or broken insulator on a subtransmission line in Richmondville was blamed for knocking out power to about 22,000 National Grid customers Wednesday morning in parts of Schoharie, Albany and Otsego counties.

Although power was rerouted to about 16,000 customers along the Interstate 88 corridor within an hour of the 6:30 a.m. outage, most of the remainder were without electricity for up to six to eight hours, according to National Grid spokesman Patrick Stella.

The lack of power delayed the start of classes or closed several school districts and made it difficult for motorists to find a gas station with working pumps.

Many of the affected homes and businesses were in Cobleskill, where the state college canceled classes for the day.

“Around 6,000 customers were out until around noon … and we picked up the remaining at 2:20 p.m. in East Worcester,” Stella said.

Although power was restored to most of central Cobleskill at about 7 a.m., the traffic signals at the main downtown intersection of busy routes 7, 10, and 145 at Main and Grand streets were inoperative until about noon. Village police directed traffic during the period, Officer Jeffery Brown said.

Areas at the east and west ends of the village were without power until about noon, according to Brown.

Shoppers at the 24-hour Wal-Mart plaza at the eastern edge of the village couldn’t do any morning shopping after Wal-Mart closed its doors from about 6:30 a.m. to noon, said manager Steve Stanton.

“We have ways to keep food cold … so we didn’t lose any product,” Stanton said.

Power to the downtown Price Chopper plaza was only interrupted briefly, according to police.

“The generator kicked on within seconds” at Cobleskill Regional Hospital, said spokeswoman Joanne Gleba. Power came back on at 7:30 and “no patient care or other services or appointments were interrupted or affected,” Gleba said. There were 23 patients staying at the 40-bed hospital Wednesday, she said.

“It was completely invisible to patients,” Gleba said. “Breakfast was already prepared … except they had instant coffee,” she said.

National Grid “tries to get emergency services up as quickly as possible,” Stella said, but he couldn’t say whether the quick power restoration at the hospital was coincidental. “Initially, we try to reroute power to try and get people back on while we make the repairs.”

Cobleskill village water continued flowing uninterrupted to the 1,080 homes and buildings, according to Water Superintendent Jeff Pangman.

When he was called in at 6:30 a.m., Pangman said the generators for pumps had switched on automatically and ran until noon when village power was restored.

“We didn’t miss a beat,” Pangman said.

The widespread outage stemmed from the single small equipment failure in the Warnerville area of Richmondville. A broken insulator on a line near the intersection of Hite and Beards Hollow roads was the culprit, Stella said. No vandalism is suspected.

Cobleskill-Richmondville Central Schools closed the high school in Warnerville and the Radez Elementary School in Richmondville. Faced with uncertainty about the length of the outage, no heat and lack of facilities to provide lunch, the district also closed the Golding Middle School in Cobleskill, said Superintendent Lynn Macan.

Power was restored to the Golding and Ryder elementary schools in Cobleskill at about 7 a.m., so those schools remained open. The size of the 2,200-student district, covering 15 town over 180 square miles, and the timing of the outage complicated busing about 1,500 students home.

Some students bused from Cobleskill-Richmondville High School had to wait an hour or so in the cafeteria or gym at the Golding complex in Cobleskill, according to a student.

Classes were delayed two hours in the Duanesburg, Middleburgh, Sharon Springs and Worcester school districts. Schoharie Central schools were unaffected by a brief morning outage.

Categories: Schenectady County

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