RI - 26,000 Lose Power in 3 Cities for an Hour

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Amtrak blamed for outage

About 26,000 homes and business in three cities lose power for just over an hour.

Journal staff writer

Electrical power was disrupted for more than an hour yesterday morning, affecting about 26,000 customers of Narragansett Electric Co. in sections of Providence, Cranston and Warwick.

A spokeswoman for Narragansett Electric blamed the problem on Amtrak, the railroad passenger service.

Maureen McDowell, a spokeswoman for Narragansett and its parent company, National Grid, said that excavation work was being done at an Amtrak facility.

Workers at the rail facility, while making some electrical switching maneuvers, created a problem that, in turn, disrupted a 115-kilovolt transmission line, McDowell said.

"They were doing some work, and they caused a major error that affected our line," McDowell said.

No one was hurt in the incident.

A spokeswoman for Amtrak was checking into the incident to see if railroad officials agreed with the power company's version of events. A different spokeswoman said that rail service was not interrupted in the area.

The electrical problem began about 9:15 a.m., prompting a flood of calls to Narragansett Electric and police. By 10:30 a.m., Narragansett had rerouted power and electricity was restored to customers, the company said.

At T.F Green Airport, the power outage didn't shut down the airplane operations, but it shut down the escalators and baggage belts, said Patti Goldstein, spokeswoman. Of particular concern was the security checkpoint, where employees had to hand-carry bags through the point, she said.

Spokeswomen for Warwick Mall and Rhode Island Mall said that those large shopping facilities were not affected by the failure. Nor was Kent County Memorial Hospital in Warwick.

The outage came on a hot, late-spring day when temperatures inched toward record levels -- but just missed the record mark, according to the National Weather Service.

At the time of the failure, air conditioning systems may have been switched on in some homes and businesses to combat readings in the 80s.

Between 10 and 11 a.m., the temperature at the airport rose from 84 to 87 degrees.

However, temperatures peaked at 91 degrees at 3 p.m., just shy of the record high for the day, set in 1974.

Today is expected to be partly sunny, becoming "very warm and humid," according to the weather service, with a 50 percent chance of late-afternoon thundershowers, with the chance of rain increasing at night.

Tomorrow is expected to be partly sunny and cooler, with highs in the mid-70s.



-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), June 11, 2000

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