NewsChannel Investigates More Problems with Lubbock Power Lines - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

9/24/07

NewsChannel Investigates More Problems with Lubbock Power Lines

We told you three weeks ago the Federal Communication Commission gave Lubbock Power and Light and Xcel Energy a citation back in July for breaking federal law.

The feds located 44 places in Lubbock where the power lines are arcing, causing electrical interference.  But during our investigation, we discovered those lines are not just causing interference with radios; they could be the reason behind some mysterious fires around Lubbock.

Gwynn Carman says her shed caught fire last Thursday morning in her backyard.   "If you walk here you can see the fence and the neighbor's grass that burned," she showed NewsChannel 11.  

Carman says the Lubbock Fire Department was able to put the fire out just in time before it spread to her house. Before the fire, Carman's neighbor saw something wrong with the power lines. 

"The neighbors saw it smoking and sparking and then saw the fire later," said Carman.   She says LP&L repaired the power lines after the fire, but it's unclear whether the lines are the culprit.  "My son said the fire marshal said he couldn't tell what caused the fire," she said.     

Another fire happened just three weeks ago. George Calvert says the grass in the alley behind his house caught fire. "Were you here when it happened?"  "Yes, It was about 11 at night," he said.

Calvert says he put out the fire himself and is not sure what caused it.  "The line broke out there, fell to the ground the sparks set the grass on fire," he explained.  But he thinks the winds the day before could have been the reason.          

"Do you know who came out to fix that problem?" asked NewsChannel 11.  "LP&L did," Calvert replied. 

We checked out the repairs in the alley and noticed a wire left dangling in mid-air.  We didn't touch it in fear that it could have been a live wire.  

"It appears there's a problem in regards to a loose ground wire that is on the pole.  That could be a safety issue," said Bryan Edwards.  

Edwards has known about problem power lines for years. He complained to the city 14 years ago when he noticed electrical interference on his ham radio and he discovered power lines were causing it.  Electrical investigators believe the interference is due to arcing. That's when two wires spark and eventually those wires can burn in two and cause a fire when it hits the ground.     

The Lubbock Fire Department says since January, they have responded to 73 fires due to power lines.   They say various reasons could have caused the fire, like squirrels, the weather, and even arcing.    

"Do you remember what the weather was like that day?" we asked Carman.  "It was a little windy, but it wasn't bad considering the winds we have here," she said.

Edwards claims for years, LP&L has ignored the problem until it got a federal citation this summer. The citation also went to Xcel Energy demanding that both power companies work together to get the problems resolved. 

Xcel contracted with Mike Martin, an independent electrical consultant, who will be here in October to locate the problems and fix them.  We learned LP&L has agreed to split the cost with Xcel to bring in an independent consultant.

We'll keep you posted of any new developments. In the meantime, if you see sparking on power lines, you are urged to contact your electrical company and report the problem.

8/27/07
Two Lubbock Power Companies Receive Citations for Breaking Federal Law
The federal government has issued Lubbock Power and Light, the city owned power company, and Xcel Energy citations for violating federal law. Because of that, they are requiring LP&L and Xcel to work together to fix the problem.

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