Memo: Weekend Outages Affected Winfield’s Customer Call-In Line

Winfield City officials know now just how many utility customers were affected by weekend power outages and are working to better inform the public when such widespread losses of power occur.

In a memo to city commissioners, city manager Jeremy Willmoth said an outage Saturday night lasted about 40 minutes and impacted about 1,550 customers. That outage led to a loss of power at the city’s Viking Substation, which serves customers in the eastern portion of Winfield and rural locations as far east as the Dexter-Burden area.

The solution that night was to tie the Viking Substation in with the city’s West Substation. That was successful until birds began to trip a breaker, that had to be manually reset, at the West Substation.

Birds caused two outages on Sunday. Willmoth said both lasted less than an hour and impacted roughly 3,600 customers. Efforts are underway to ensure that birds are not a problem at the substation.

Willmoth said the outages also caused a problem for a phone system meant to handle calls from residents reporting outages.

“The outage at the Viking Substation impacted the Operations Center which is where our call handler is housed which is why when people tried to call and report the outage they could not get through,” he wrote in the memo. “Staff is working on a plan to try and mitigate this from happening in the future but as with all plans we must be mindful of the cost compared to the likelihood of future failures of this magnitude.”

City staff has already added information to the city’s web site regarding how to report an outage and is working toward a social media policy for providing public information for future outages.