GLOVERSVILLE — Two large outages affecting thousands of customers in recent days were caused by unforeseen issues with a mobile substation in Gloversville.
The mobile station has been brought in to carry customers’ power load while a substation in Gloversville undergoes routine maintenance, according to Patrick Stella, a National Grid spokesperson. The work began last week and is expected to continue through September.
“This is a normal occurrence, this is how we maintain the system,” Stella said.
However, that mobile substation has had two problems that caused thousands of people on two occasions, the most recent one being Monday, to lose power — some of them for hours.
“We had a bad switch, which is the connection between the substation and the network,” Stella said about the first incident around 3 p.m. July 27.
That outage affected roughly 4,000 customers.
“We had to bring in a new switch from Albany and reinstall that,” Stella said.
He said they were able to start getting power back on for some within a few hours. However, he said others — about 2,000 — didn’t have power until four the next morning.
On Monday, around 3,100 customers were without power starting around 4 p.m. after a breaker malfunctioned on the mobile substation, Stella said.
“We replaced that and we got those customers back on by 7:30 p.m.,” he said, noting that around 1,300 were back on within a half-hour.
Stella said, while never ideal, outages do happen.
“A vast majority of our electrical equipment is exposed to the elements — hot, cold, rainy — it does malfunction and we go out there and make those repairs or replace equipment every day,” he said.
As the state prepares for what is expected to be blistering hot weather, Stella said the mobile substation can bear the load that may come from increased electrical usage over the next couple of days. But, should the system malfunction again, he said there are crews and parts available to make repairs as quickly as possible.
“We’re confident we can get through the week,” he said.
Temperatures in the area are expected to be in the upper 90s or higher in the next couple of days, according to the National Weather Service. Should the power go out, people should be prepared as they would for any other emergency, said Steve Santa Maria, director of Fulton County Emergency Management.
He said the county works with senior centers and libraries in both Gloversville and Johnstown to have cooling stations operating during normal business hours. He also said people need to know the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, and if they see signs of a heat stroke to call emergency responders right away.
According to the state Health Department signs of heat exhaustion include:
- Heavy sweating
- Cold, pale, clammy skin
The signs of a heat stroke include:
- Hot, dry, red skin
- Rapid pulse
- High body temperature ≥ 105°
- Loss of alertness
- Unconsciousness or coma
- Rapid and shallow breathing
People are also cautioned to follow the same guidelines as they normally would for extreme heat, whether the power is on or not, including wear light clothing, limit physical activity, take breaks if participating in a physical activity in the heat, stay hydrated and when possible seek shade.
Should you be caught on the road during a power outage, traffic lights must be treated as a four-way stop, Santa Maria said. He said Route 30A allows for back up generators to be used to get signals working again but that can take 30 to 45 minutes to get up and running.
“As always, use extreme caution,” he said.
Santa Maria said people generally should have supplies for any emergency on hand that would last at least three days.
“The better prepared you can be ahead of time determines how well you’ll make it,” he said.
People can keep up to date on outages and other emergencies by following the Fulton County Emergency Management/ Fire Coordinators Office or the Fulton County Public Health Department on Facebook. Santa Maria said the county also has an app — Fulton County EMO — that people can download for free, which provides tons of information including preparing for emergencies.
Santa Maria also suggested people with medical devices register their equipment with National Grid because when the power does go out, he said National Grid will try to get to those customers first. People can find more information on how to register their device at nationalgridus.com/Upstate-NY-Home/Outage-Central/Special-Needs.
To limit the usage impact on the grid and ease customer costs, National Grid suggest actions like keeping windows and doors closed when running a heating or cooling system. More cooling tips can be found at nationalgridus.com/Upstate-NY-Home/Energy-Saving-Tips/Heating-Cooling. Whenever there is an outage, Stella said to call National Grid at 800-867-5222 or report outages on the website.