Updated Nov. 14, 10:15 p.m.
Electricities crews Monday night were able to restore power to nearly all of the approximately 2,700 customers who had been without power for close to 20 hours following an explosion at an electrical substation off Zion Avenue early Monday morning.
A voltage regulator exploded around 1:30 a.m. Monday, causing a fire that damaged multiple pieces of large equipment at the substation. Crews needed to rebuild about half of the substation equipment, Electricities Spokesman Craig Norfolk said Monday night.
The cause of the explosion was unknown as of Monday night at 10, as the company’s top priority following the incident was to get the power back on, Mr. Norfolk said. And as of 9 p.m., crews got all of the main breakers up and running.
Some individuals remained without power due to isolated cases of blown fuses, Mr. Norfolk said, and crews anticipated several more hours of work Monday night in order to respond to those calls.
As a next step, Electricities will assemble a team to look into the cause of the explosion, Mr. Norfolk said.
Update from earlier, 5:30 p.m. Monday:
Update: Cornelius power outage may last until 9 p.m.
About 2,700 customers in Cornelius east of I-77 remained in the dark late Monday afternoon as crews from Electricities worked to replace a transformer and other equipment at an electrical substation off Zion Avenue. A spokesman said service may not be back for several hours – at 5:30 p.m. Monday, he said it could be as late as 9 p.m.
The public power company’s main transformer serving Cornelius caught fire around 1:30 a.m. after arcing electricity brought a series of explosions heard throughout the area. Cornelius firefighters responded to the incident.
Traffic signals were out at major intersections, and Cornelius police were still directing traffic Monday evening. They included lights at the northbound ramp at I-77 Exit 28 and at the intersections at Catawba Avenue/Statesville Road, Main Street/Catawba Avenue and Old Statesville Road/Bailey Road. With service still out this evening, the outage affected traffic during the afternoon rush hour as well.
There was no suspicious activity related to the incident, according to police.
The fire destroyed the main transformer and other equipment at the fenced substation, which is east of the railroad tracks in downtown Cornelius.
“We had an electric arc and a fire in the substation,” explained Craig Norfolk, an Electricities spokesman. “It ended up shorting out a transformer in the substation, a breaker, (and) a regulator and damaged some of our insulators.” Overhead wires also burned inside the station.
He said the arcing likely was responsible for the multiple booms that residents reported hearing around 1:30 a.m. Electricities workers said the blaze destroyed the transformer. On Monday afternoon, the charred hulk of the old transformer could be seen inside the substation.
Electricities brought a new transformer from Concord, along with a large crane to lift it into place. Mr. Norfolk said it could be 9 p.m. before the power is restored.
The outage on the east side of I-77 affected homes, businesses, schools and Cornelius Town Hall, which had no power, and was open only for limited services. Because of the outage, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools closed W.A. Hough High School and J.V. Washam and Cornelius elementary schools for the day. The Lake Norman YMCA also remained closed while the power was out.
Customers in Davidson also lost power after the substation fire, and a Duke Energy spokesman said it briefly cut service from Duke’s substation off Delburg Street, behind the Brickhouse Tavern.
At one point, Duke was reporting more than 3,800 customers without power. That means altogether about 6,500 customers between the two utilities were without electricity at the peak of the outage.