626 East 30 North
Ephraim, UT 84627
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Ephraim city hiring consultant to look into damaging power surge
EPHRAIM — A power surge during the snow storm that hit Utah early last week destroyed appliances in about 30 homes in the central Utah city of Ephraim.
So far, the city hasn’t taken responsibility for the damage, which may have been caused by crossed power lines.
“We were told they might consider it an ‘act of nature,’ ” said Lois Wrubell, who lost a double oven, a DVD player, printer, thermostat and light bulbs to the surge on Dec. 21.
“No decision has been made about the issue,” Mayor David Parish said.
The city will bring in a third party consultant to investigate and see whether there was anything the city could have done to prevent the surge from happening, or whether the city could avoid such problems in the future.
“The problem was, it was a huge storm. I don’t know if there was anything the city could have done to prevent the surge, but that’s what we’re looking into,” he said.
The surge came as power flickered on and off throughout surrounding cities in Sanpete County. Spring City, Mt. Pleasant and Fairview, in the northern end of the county, were without electricity for most of the day.
Power department supervisor Alma Lund said the surge probably resulted from power transmission lines weighed down by the storm’s heavy snow then arcing to lower distribution lines.
The transmission lines carry 46,000 volts, he said. The distribution lines running beneath them, which picked up the charge, usually carry 7,200 volts.
Lund said the surges weren’t stopped by the city’s transformers as they should have been.
Wrubell said there were several waves of brownouts and surges, during the last of which she could smell electrical wires burning.
Just before an electrician from nearby Manti could cut the power connection to her house, a final surge blew a hole in her electricity meter.
She said they have had several brownouts and some blackouts in the three years they have lived in Ephraim.
Jeanie Hermanson was practicing with her family for a Christmas show when she says there was a brownout and then “sparks flew out of the television.”
The TV was a complete loss. But she also lost a double oven, dishwasher, central vacuum system, guitar amp, electronic keyboard, DVD player and water treatment system.
Her family had a backup generator that could run the house’s furnace, but she said some neighbors without another power source or a wood stove didn’t have heat until Wednesday.
“We were lucky nobody got hurt and nobody’s house burned down,” Hermanson said.