Ashland gets a jump-start

Temporary transformer on truck powers town after regulator blows.
Friday, November 14, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:53 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The lights went off in Ashland last week, and when they came back on, they were powered by a temporary transformer on the back of a truck at AmerenUE’s facility at New Bloomfield in Callaway County.

A tap changer, a device that regulates voltage for a power transformer, exploded Nov. 4, Ameren spokesman Mike Cleary said.

Cleary said that customers shouldn’t notice any difference in service. “From the standpoint of serving the customers, they’re being served by the portable transformer,” he said.

Today is the ninth day Ashland has been powered by the portable unit.

Engineers still are working to determine the reason for the explosion, Cleary said Thursday, and whether the problem originated in the transformer or the tap changer itself. Power was lost by 2,266 customers in Ashland, Holts Summit and New Bloomfield, Cleary said.

City administrator Ken Eftink said Ashland experienced some smaller outages earlier this year. While the momentary outages don’t cause major problems, they can be a hassle for businesses because computers shut down before the power comes back.

When power outages happen, Ashland theoretically should be able to get power from Boone Electric Cooperative, Eftink said.

“There is an interconnect between Ameren and Boone, and if Ameren had a major problem, or if the reverse were true, the interconnect could be made,” he said. “(But the recent failure showed that) the interconnect is there but not functioning,” Eftink said.

Meanwhile, Eftink said, the Public Service Commission was contacted and will pull together data for the Ashland council at its meeting Tuesday night.

“We do try to make it as reliable as possible,” Cleary said of Ameren’s service. “But nobody can guarantee totally uninterrupted service.”

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