Residents of the city of Russell need not limit their power usage more than usual for fear of causing another power outage, say officials at Western Cooperative Electric, WaKeeney.

The portable transformer installed Thursday and owned by Western Cooperative at a substation east of Russell is operating just like a permanent transformer would, said Daryl Steckline, line superintendent for Western Cooperative.

The permanent transformer failed at 1:30 a.m. Thursday causing a power outage lasting more than 16 hours in Russell and the nearby surrounding rural area. Sunflower Electric Power, Hays, brought in a portable transformer to deliver power into Russell until the permanent one can be repaired.

“The portable has the capacity to handle anything they throw at it. It’s actually a very robust unit,” Steckline said. “It’s no more likely to go down than the permanent one was.”

Western and Sunflower crews are working this week and into next to repair the failed transformer, which required some replacement parts that were on hand and others that had to be brought in.

Steckline estimated Friday the part of the transformer that failed would be built and tested and ready to go by mid to late week.

The failure was not an extraordinary event, however, he indicated.

“It’s moving parts that failed, and there was load on it, and the moving parts just wear out,” Steckline said.

The substation’s transformer tripped a switch after failure of a load tap changer, a mechanical part that ensures the transformer operates safely and efficiently, according to Dennis Deines of Western's member services.

That caused the outage when it disrupted the flow of 115,000 volts of electricity into the substation, which is normally lowered to 34,500 volts and then transmitted to Russell.

While the city of Russell Power Plant supplies energy to the city and about 50 square miles of rural area, the city gets much of its power from Western and Sunflower, said Deines and Steckline. Western distributes power to communities in 13 counties in west central Kansas and is a member-owner of Sunflower, which is the generation and transmission supplier to its members.

The Western substation transfers electricity transmitted by Sunflower Electric.

“For the most part, the power that we supply comes from the grid,” Steckline said. “And for the most part that’s cheaper power than what they (Russell) generate.”

Western and Sunflower declined to provide information about how much power they supply to Russell. “I respectfully defer all these questions to the City of Russell,” Deines said.

City of Russell Electric Utility Director Duane Banks didn’t immediately return deadline calls requesting information.