Commonwealth Journal

November 5, 2012

Wayward bird causes power outage along U.S. 27

By CHRIS HARRIS and HEATHER TOMLINSON, CJ Staff Writers
Associated Press

Somerset —  

Many of the people who had to wait through a substantial power outage Monday probably thought their situation was “for the birds” ... but they might not have realized how right they were.
According to Cliff Feltham, spokesperson for Kentucky Utilities, 321 customers were without power during the afternoon after a transformer blew.
The cause? A bird flew into it.
“It happens,” said Feltham. “It can be birds or squirrels or snakes or all kinds of varmints.
“In this case, the bird touched the wrong thing,” he added. “The system shut down when the bird made contact.”
This is actually a good thing — it means the transformer went into a self-protective mode at the sign of a potential threat.
“The system did what it’s supposed to do whenever there’s something on it that reads as ... not working as it’s supposed to,” said Feltham. “It’s like your breaker switch at home. If something gets overloaded or there’s something the system doesn’t detect as being right, it’ll shut down, and that’s exactly what happened here.”
The incident happened at about 12:34 p.m. It was an “easy fix,” according to Feltham, and power was back up by 1:17 p.m.
Numerous businesses in the vicinity — mostly around the Tradepark Drive area, or stoplight no. 8 — were affected, including Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital. 
Susan Wilson, spokesperson for the hospital, said that within seconds of the outage, the emergency generator came on and power was restored to critical areas of the facility, thus preventing potential harm to patients.
 “We initiated our emergency operation plan to address anticipated effects of a prolonged power outage,” she said. “Ongoing surgical procedures were supported to completion, and elective procedures not yet started were postponed until full electric power was restored.”
 Four team members and one patient were temporarily caught in elevators in the adjoining medical arts building, but were safely removed with the assistance of the Somerset Fire Department. There were no team member, patient or visitor injuries during the event, and there was no interruption of patient care services. 
 “We were pleased with the response of our team members,” said Mark Brenzel, Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital CEO. “They prepare for events such as this by participating in drills periodically throughout the year and this is a great example of their coordinated response to an emergency situation.”
Somerset Police spokesperson Lt. Shannon Smith reported no known injuries or significant hazards as a result of the outage.
Feltham noted that the bird likely didn’t survive the collision.