Oncor Electric will work to determine why an east Dallas electric transformer did not immediately shut down when it became overloaded last week, resulting in a more than two minute display of electric arcing, popping and sparks.
“At first I had no idea [what was happening] but then it was just like, ‘All right something is, this is not right. It is getting ready to explode,’” said Frank Morales, who recorded the phenomenon on his cell phone last Thursday from the backyard of his Lakewood home.
According to Oncor, the company that handles the delivery of electricity to customers in North Texas, the incident occurred during the late afternoon, while the temperature was above 100 degrees. That same day the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (Oncor) announced there was a record demand for electricity across the state.
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There are two transformers that help deliver electricity to people who live along Lorna Lane, just off of Gaston Avenue near the Lakewood Country Club, according to Oncor. One of the transformers – the larger one – “flicked off” due to the heat and the heavy demand for power, an Oncor representative said. That put an excess load on the smaller transformer, causing the electric arcing that Morales, a Dallas dentist, witnessed.
The problem, according to the Oncor spokesperson, is that in the event of arcing the transformer was supposed to immediately shut down. As a result, the company will replace the smaller transformer and work to determine why the previous one malfunctioned.
The incident is “not uncommon,” according to Oncor, but is also not “a regular occurrence.”
The danger connected to an incident like the one that Morales recorded is that the sparks could ignite a fire on nearby vegetation, like trees, that come into contact with the power line, according to Oncor.
“It was like, ‘I have to take a video of this so they can see what is going on.’” Morales said about his decision to record the incident as opposed to seeking safety indoors. “Because if you just say, ‘Well there were sparks,’ if I told you that you wouldn't have gotten the emotion, the impact from watching it; especially if you listen to the video.”
Morales noted that an Oncor representative contacted him on Tuesday and claimed the company would run a report to investigate his claim that there have been other issues regarding transformers and power lines in his neighborhood. The Dallas dentist is concerned that whereas a fire was averted in this particular situation, a prior incident involving a transformer did spark a fire that burned a neighbor’s garage.