Frederick power problems pits businesses against city

Frederick_Power problems in Frederick are frustrating business owners.  The city says power was out in the south and west parts of the town for several hours last Wednesday after a piece of city equipment malfunctioned.  However, several business owners say this is not the first time they have been without power.  What's worse, they say the frequent power surges are damaging their electronics.

The City of Frederick says there are now power surges, but they are calling the incidents "blinks."  They say the power blinks are a safety feature that keeps transformers from catching fire.  Local businesses aren't buying the explanation.  Kevin Gallagher manages Dad's Convenience Store, and says the surges are causing his fluorescent lights to fade, and caused damage to more of his property.  "We've lost a laptop computer, our air conditioner compressor has failed us twice," he said.

City electrician Henry Owens says the power blinks won't hurt equipment.  "If you have a blink and it knocks off your computer and it doesn't come back on, then it was fixing to go out anyways," he said.  Other business owners on the southwest side of Frederick also have complained, but Owens says the burden shouldn't be placed entirely on the city's shoulders, and he says he has advice for them.  "Battery backups, surge do your part, and we'll do ours," he said.

Owens also says that if the city has done something wrong, it will admit it.  "We don't tell fibs and not stand up straight when it comes time," he said.  "We just do what we're supposed to do, and we do it as honestly as humanly possible."  However, Gallagher says that's little comfort.  He says he has lost thousands of dollars after his equipment has been broken after power surges.  "Last week it was out for over two hours," he said  "We've invested in a compressor we're going to have professionally installed because we can't rely on the city's equipment anymore."

Owens says that the City of Frederick will investigate damages.  "It's gotta be certified by an electrician with a license in the State of Oklahoma," he said.  "If he comes in and says the City of Frederick was at fault, we'll go check it out."  Gallagher says the blinks are putting him in a tough spot.   "It's frustrating when you're trying to keep prices down for a bad economy," he said.  "You've gotta jack your prices up to cover what's not even your fault, or the consumers' fault."

Owens says the outages occur when birds or squirrels get into the lines, and weather can contribute to the blinks.  The city says it investigates every instance of power problems, and Owens says they keep a log of where incidents occur, why they occur, and how many people investigated.