NEWBERRY — As commuters readied for work and children got ready for school Thursday morning, a widespread power outage hit the City of Newberry and the Town of Prosperity.
According to Ryan Mosier, company spokesman for Duke Power, a dove interfered with a high tension breaker at a substation causing the outage.
He said typically snakes and squirrels are animal culprits and this was the first time he had heard of a dove starting an outage.
Early into the incident, Assistant City Manager Matt DeWitt said it could be up to a three-hour power outage.
“Duke Energy’s ‘high-side switch’ that controls electricity coming to Newberry and Prosperity was damaged this morning,” said DeWitt. “Utility crews worked diligently to bypass the problem until Duke could restore functionality to the failed piece of equipment. The situation caused major inconveniences throughout the City of Newberry and Prosperity. As a Duke customer, the City apologizes for this interruption in service to all of our customers.”
Newberry County School District staff monitored the situation from darkened offices, remaining in constant contact with city officials and the Newberry County Sheriff’s Department to determine the severity of the outage and how soon power could be expected to resume.
Between 500 and 2,000 customers were without power until 9:56 a.m.
Sheriff Lee Foster said drivers did what they were supposed to do on street without operational signals.
“People did fair with (observing the change) though there were some issues on Wilson Road particularly with multiple lane intersection Wilson Road and 121,” he said. “Consideration and cooperation are a must (during outages like this).”
Foster said officers tried to direct traffic, but also had to answer emergency calls.
Newberry County Schools revised SCPASS testing schedules after the outage affected Gallman Elementary, Newberry Elementary, Boundary Street Elementary, Reuben Elementary, Newberry Middle School, Newberry High School and Newberry Alternative School.
Dr. Carson Ware, director of Accountability, Assessment and Professional Development, notified the State Department of Education, which confirmed that testing could be postponed for the affected schools.
Students in grades 4 and 7 were to be administered the SCPASS Social Studies test today (May 9) while students in grades 3, 5, 6, and 8 were to be given the Science or Social Studies test today (May 9) as well. Students in grades 4 and 7 will be given the SCPASS Science test on May 12. Parents were notified of the revised schedule through School Messenger.
According to the district, school resumed on a normal schedule once the power was back on.
Students remained in their classroom as they followed power outage protocol. In classrooms that do not have windows, classes were relocated according to a written plan in place.
Pam Arrington, executive director of Human Resources for the district, said several schools have generators and that there was little disruption due to the outage.
“This situation displayed another example of the great collaborative efforts within our county, highlighting the communication and cooperation of the City of Newberry and the Sheriff’s Office in trying to determine how this outage would affect our schools,” Superintendent Bennie Bennett said.