Starlings cause Golden Valley power outage

KINGMAN - Roughly 4,000 Golden Valley customers of UniSource Energy Services lost power Tuesday afternoon when the substation at Highway 68 and Aztec Road shut down.

Power went out about 12:55 p.m., said Bill DeJulio, transmission distribution manager for UniSource.

"We've had ongoing problems at the substation with starlings (small black birds)," he said. "A large number got into the substation and caused a flash that took down the station."

A repair crew found many dead starlings inside the substation. Heat from the flash was so intense it melted the porcelain off two insulators.

The damaged insulators were replaced and dead birds removed, permitting power to be restored to all customers at about 1:49 p.m., DeJulio said.

UniSource Energy is planning to open a west valley substation at Colorado and Diabase roads by the end of the year. DeJulio said once it goes into service the present substation at Aztec Road will be temporarily taken out of service for extensive maintenance to include insulation of energy lines, thus lessening the probability of future outages due to birds or rodents.

That insulation is being incorporated into the new substation, so there should be no problems from birds or rodents from the time it goes into service.

After upgrading of the Aztec Road substation, it will join the new substation in serving customers with each providing power to about half of Golden Valley.