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Comanche Residents Recovering from Power Outage

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COMANCHE, Okla_ Thursday was the hottest day of 2013 so far, and it was more miserable for some than others.

The power went out in the City of Comanche Thursday numerous times and during the heat of the day. The rising temperatures themselves were partly to blame.

When the temperatures are up, the air conditioners are running. When too much power is used at once, systems can be overloaded. This time, it caused problems for the entire city, including local businesses.

It was a game of cat and mouse for Pharmacist Bill Baker. Power first went out around 3:30 PM.

"It came right back on," Baker said. "We got all of our computers up, we got a little bit of stuff done, and then it went off again. It was off a little bit longer the second time. Then it came back up, and I thought it was probably over."

It wasn't. The power went out again.

"If somebody had come in an emergency and had to have a prescription, they probably would've had to go to Duncan," Baker said.

Comanche Public Works Director Gary Williams blames the heavy load. Everyone was running their air conditioners at the same time. It blew the breaker, and when they reset the system, it happened again.

"When we kick it on, it's what they call a "hard start," Williams said. "Everybody's air conditioner kicks on, it pulls three times as much as it does to run it, and that causes it to kick off."

They had to find a way to reduce the amps. So, the city kept power off at the school, city buildings, and others, while trying to restore it to residents.

The baseball games were cancelled last night, because they didn't have electricity. Now, the lights are shining bright. It's because the city is running a lot of its power sources. They're testing the amps to make sure a similar situation to yesterday doesn't happen again.

"We've jumped it up to 800 amps from 600 amps," Williams said. "We were running 600 amps yesterday, we got up a little over 600, and that's what caused the problem."

While it was a bit inconvenient and hot, Baker said he understands and is glad business was able to go on.

"I had several people that said, "Well, all I have is a debit card. Can I pick up my medicine?" We just wrote them a ticket, and they left. We know they'll be back to pay for it later."

Williams said the amp load has been in check all day. So, the power shouldn't go out again, but they will keep an eye on the system.

The problem was enhanced, because the city is in the process of getting new equipment to replacing aging equipment from the 1950s. It's not all in place yet. A second transformer still needs to be put in. When that happens, they can reduce the load on the amps once again.  

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