WOOD RIVER JUNCTION - Thousands of National Grid customers, including URI and Chariho High School, were without power for a short time on Monday morning after an explosion and subsequent fire badly damaged a transformer at the substation on Shumunkanuc Hill Road.
Approximately 20,000 customers lost power primarily in Charlestown, Westerly, Hopkinton and South Kingstown, according to National Grid Rhode Island Media Rep. David Graves.
Nobody was hurt, and the cause of the explosion was still unknown when power was restored.
The explosion occurred around 9 a.m., and the power was back on for all who lost it at 11:15, when URI, the last remaining customer left in the dark, was officially back up and running. Graves said that National Grid workers had to work side by side with URI maintenance to get the university back online.
Charlestown Town Hall lost power for only a few minutes before it was returned, but the lights were out for approximately an hour and a half at town hall in Hopkinton. The Hopkinton Police Station and Dept. of Public Works also lost power for a moment, but both have backup generators ready to go.
The Hopkinton Recreation Dept. at the Crandall House on Route. 3 was also with power for a period of time.
According to published reports, most of those without power were in Westerly, to the tune of approximately 13,800. Hopkinton had about 2,100 without power by mid-morning, and the number was below 500 in Charlestown.
The transformer at the substation also helps provide power to three other substations in South County, including one in Westerly and one in Ashaway. The substation went back up once the transformer in Wood River Junction was replaced.
Police, Fire and National Grid crews all arrived on scene at the substation after the explosion. The downed transformer was severely burned, and crews worked to switch power to another transformer at the substation. Graves said that the burned equipment is likely to going to have to be replaced.
“Equipment unfortunately has a finite life-span,” Graves said. “We do constant maintenance on our distribution lines and substations, but sometimes equipment fails. That is what happened here.”
For more information, pick up a copy of The Chariho Times.