By John McCallum
Managing Editor 

Wear and tear leads to Sunday power outage


Last updated 2/5/2021 at 3:32pm

CHENEY – An aging connection’s failure led to a power outage early Sunday morning, leaving a number of customers without heat.

According to Light Director Steve Marx, around midnight on Saturday, Jan. 30, a “hot tap” failed and burned through a main power line and tripped feeder No. 6 at the city’s main substation on Cheney-Plaza Road. A hot tap is a connection to a main power line which over time can fail due to the elements, wind and vibrations that can loosen the connection.

“This creates small gaps at the connection to the main line, which can create arching and sparking (heat), which can eventually burn through the main line and in this case it did,” Marx said in an email. “This can take years to occur.”

Marx said the failure caused about 525 customers to lose power four about four hours early Sunday morning. The outage began in the Salnave area and extended down 1st Street/State Route 904 as far as downtown and the ADM Mill.

Marx said power was restored by 4 a.m.

According to Light Department information, besides the substation on Cheney-Plaza Road, the city is also served by a second substation on Jensen Road/Four Lakes area. The city’s power system includes seven feeders, 32.6 miles of overhead line, 29.4 miles of underground wire, 700 pole-mount and 349 pad-mount transformers, 1,693 power poles, 743 street lights and 164 yard lights.

– John McCallum can be reached at

Author Bio

John McCallum, Retired editor

John McCallum is an award-winning journalist who retired from Cheney Free Press after more than 20 years. He received 10 Washington Newspaper Publisher Association awards for journalism and photography, including first place awards for Best Investigative, Best News and back-to-back awards in Best Breaking News categories.


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