Electrical substation vandalized causing thousands to lose power

Updated: Mar. 10, 2022 at 10:00 PM CST
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ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) - An act of vandalism left thousands across southern Oklahoma without power on Tuesday night and it won’t be a cheap fix.

At around 11:30 on Tuesday night the Red River Valley Rural Electric Association started receiving calls of power outages.

That led them to the electrical substation on the corner of Batson and Jimtown where they discovered bullet holes in the transformer.

“We do have an answering service that takes the calls after hours but when it becomes that large of a situation its hard for them to keep up,” said Red River Valley REA VP of member services Mike Mathis.

Tuesday night was one of those overwhelming moments.

When the calls started coming in a team went out to investigate.

“The bullet hole was about halfway up the transformer so it lost quite a bit of the oil which totally damaged the transformer, its no longer in use,” said Western Farmers Electric Co-Op lead substation technician Ty Carlson.

The damage caused nearly 1,200 people to lose power, forcing the company to adjust on the fly to get it restored.

“About 2:30 they were able to get around half those people back on by back feeding and connecting to other substations that could handle the extra load temporarily,” Mathis said.

The rest of the power was back on by around 8:30 Wednesday morning after a mobile substation was brought in.

But that’s just a temporary patch and maintenance continued throughout the day.

“We removed the old transformer, the damaged one, had a new one come down replaced it,” Carlson said. “We’re in the process of hooking it up testing it and energizing it back tonight.”

The expectation is that everything will be back to normal by Friday, but the damage will run up a big price tag.

“A lot of time and employee labor, the transformers quite expensive,” Mathis said. “So its going to be probably $800,000 to a million dollars when its all said and done.”

Sheriff Marty Grisham says that this is still an on going investigation and urges anyone with information regarding this crime to call the love county sheriffs department right away

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