The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

Damage to insulator knocks out power to Chappell, Lodgepole


Widespread power outages occurred across an area covered by the Wheat Belt Public Power District on Tuesday. The outages extended from the North Platte River south to the Colorado state line between 4 a.m. to 9 a.m. This included the areas of Lodgepole and Chappell.

The combination of damage to an insulator, which is the glass equipment that holds the line, believed to be hit by a shotgun paired with wet, icy weather caused the line to fail, according to a press statement from Wheat Belt.

Finding the problem in the dark was very difficult due to a low layer of fog that made it almost impossible to see the top of the poles yesterday morning, even when a truck with a spotlight was directly underneath the lines, said staking engineer Ryan Borges in the release.

This event affected a larger number of customers over a wider area than most outages due to the fact that the town of Chappell and an additional substation were both being supplied by the same sub transmission line. Running both from one line occurred because the Western Area Power Association was performing maintenance on one of its substations north of Chappell, according to Wheat Belt.

Chappell has back up generators to support part of the city’s grid, but these were not employed during the outage.

Those with Wheat Belt could not estimate the cost or the level of inconvenience this caused its customers.

“The cost to Wheat Belt was tremendous,” said Michelle Hodges, customer services representative at Wheat Belt Public Power District.

Officials at Wheat Belt are not sure if the damage to the insulator was deliberate or accidental.

“We don’t know,” Hodges said. “It could be an act of vandalism and it might not be.”

Wheat Belt encourages locals to take caution near power lines and asks that anyone who witnesses an act of vandalism contact law enforcement.


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