An update from Russell power crews at 11:15 a.m.: An internal fault at a transformer belonging to Sunflower Electric east of Russell caused the city’s power outage this morning, according to city workers. Sunflower has brought in a mobile substation and power could be restored within a few hours, the crews said.

“That’s what started this whole thing,” one employee said.

By rerouting electricity, the crews are restoring some areas. About 30 percent of Russell now has power, they said.

Updated 10:30 a.m. with information from city of Russell's Facebook page:

"Turbine 2 is back in service, cooling down turbine 1 and should be able to get service back up soon except for the industrial park."

Updated 10:28 a.m. with information from city of Russell's Facebook page:

At 9:50 a.m. the city of Russell on its Facebook page told residents that an engineering firm was enroute to bring up both turbines. They noted that Western service has a crew on site to install a mobile substation.

At about 9:25 a.m. the city's page noted that "three circuits are now up. It will be slow getting other circuits up so that we don't lose the circuits that are already up." 

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The lights went out in Russell citywide at 1:30 a.m. Thursday morning and the city’s electric distribution system remains down at this time.

“Now the sun’s up it’s not too bad,” said USD 407 Interim Superintendent Shelly Swayne, who cancelled school for the day.

The cause of the citywide power outage is not known, according to police and city officials.

Hospital and emergency services are operating on back-up generators, according to police dispatch.

Electricity came back on briefly around 6:30 a.m. when a city of Russell back-up system kicked on, Swayne said, leading her and her administrators to believe school could just start a little later than usual.

But at 7:15 a.m. everything was dark again.

“Without phones, water, air, fire alarms, we just don’t have what we need to keep kids safe and communicate with our public,” she said.

She and her food service director are attempting to figure out how to preserve the school’s refrigerated and frozen food.

Officials in the City Clerk's office and police department said they didn’t have any more information as to the cause of the outage or when electricity would be back on. A crew had been out since 1:30 a.m. working on the problem.

The city of Russell Power Plant supplies energy to the city and about 50 square miles of rural area, according to the city’s website. The production department employs a superintendent, two plant mechanics and four operators. The distribution department has a superintendent, technician and four linemen.

The plant consists of three dual-fuel internal combustion engines, and two EMD internal combustion engines a block from the plant. The maximum capacity is 29.8 megawatts, the site says.