Chicken-Fried News: Rolling blackout 

click to enlarge INGVARD ASHBY
  • Ingvard Ashby

Paseo Arts District businesses and surrounding residences lost power over the holidays, and disappointingly, not because of some screwball National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation-esque Christmas-light mishap either.

“A pickup truck crashed into a large transmission line pole at N.W. 30th Street and Hudson Avenue … radiating damage to a mile of poles along 30th,” reported Oklahoma City Free Press editor Brett Dickerson on Dec. 27. “The Paseo Business District and surrounding homes — 2,700 in all — went dark for over 12 hours and some for 15 according to OG&E, the public utility that provides power to Oklahoma City.”

The crash, Free Press reported, broke “the rigid porcelain insulators extending from the three-story steel pole” and a “chain reaction of vibrations from the crash along the mile of transmission lines from Robinson to Western caused other porcelain insulators to break dropping the transmission lines onto traffic signals and neighborhood distribution lines below.”

In August, an estimated 110,000 residents lost power — some for days — as a result of severe storms, and schools in Oklahoma City, Mid Del, Piedmont, Putnam City, Deer Creek and Bethany canceled classes.

In December of 2018, OG&E asked Oklahoma Corporation Commission for an annual rate increase of nearly $78 million to offset environmental compliance costs and equipment depreciation. Apparently, unlike our nearly full set of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle commemorative collector plates (aka the Chicken Fried News retirement fund), rigid porcelain insulators actually decrease in value over time. After reviewing the company’s request, attorney general Mike Hunter determined in April that “OG&E should reduce its rates by $32 million, rather than raise them.” Or at least give us some coupons for Yankee Candle.

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