New Castle News

July 26, 2013

Downed branch causes power outage

By Staff
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — A power outage impacted both traffic and business in downtown New Castle Thursday afternoon.

Other portions of Lawrence County also were affected.

Penn Power reported problems began around 3:15 p.m., when someone cut a branch that fell on a power line. That knocked out the Cedar Street substation in Mahoningtown.

According to Chuck Jackson, area manager for Penn Power, the Cedar Street substation acts as a switching station for other Penn Power facilities. Among those was the Grant Street substation, which went out as well.

At the height of the outage, Jackson said, 5,500 customers were without power. Outages impacted portions of the downtown, the West Side and the East Side of New Castle, parts of the lower North Hill and sections of Union Township.

When contacted by the New Castle News around 7 p.m. Thursday, Jackson said about 1,700 customers were still without power. He said crews were working to restore power in different areas by linking lines to other substations. He said it might take an additional couple of hours to have power completely restored.

Jackson confirmed the outage started with a cut tree branch, but said he wasn’t sure where the incident occurred.

In the downtown, power went off briefly several times starting around 3:15 p.m. before going out completely about 10 minutes later. Power was finally restored downtown around 6:30 p.m.

At businesses in the downtown, workers and customers walked out onto the sidewalks, checking other areas for power and questioning other people about their electrical status.

Police scanner reports indicated the outage had impacted the Central Building on South Mercer Street, trapping people in an elevator. New Castle firefighters responded to assist.

The outage left many of the downtown’s intersections without traffic lights. At least one accident occurred — at North and Jefferson streets. New Castle police had officers and cruisers at various intersections, but at other sites, motorists were obliged to take turns.

Along Jefferson Street, lights were working at Kennedy Square south. However, north and up the Jefferson Street hill, lights were out and police were at intersections directing traffic. Downtown outages ran east to the Neshannock Creek and over to the West Side.