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Months after New Windsor residents report frequent, unexplained power outages, problem may be solved

A few months ago, New Windsor residents reported frequent — even daily — unexplained power outages. But now, residents and officials say the problem seems to be solved.

At a Town Council meeting in November, David Kline, representative for public utility company Potomac Edison, heard concerns and complaints of various New Windsor residents who said they had been experiencing frequent, unexplained power outages.

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At that meeting, Kline told residents that the company acknowledged their concerns and was looking for solutions. He asked residents to email him information on the outages: what happened, where they happened, what time they happened, and what the weather was like at the time.

Kline appeared at New Windsor’s Town Council meeting Wednesday night, when he thanked residents who sent information, saying it was “incredibly helpful” to sort out solutions.

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“Just complaining about a problem lets us know there’s a problem, but it’s not very helpful in solving the problem — but giving us the data like that on what happens, when and the weather and so forth, is really helpful for us,” Kline said.

At that meeting, Kline told residents what exactly had been done to address the outages, including: increased surface patrols and inspections, replacing four transformers that had damage from animals, and installing about 80 animal guards on transformers around the area.

Kline said the residents who complained about daily power interruptions weren’t exaggerating because he was getting data from them just about every day.

“About 9:30 in the morning, I got emails about momentary outages, and ... it really was every day for about a week and just about at the same time, but not at the same place — scattered around,” Kline said.

He acknowledged that more occurrences were noted on nice, clear days rather than windy, rainy ones — a trend that was able to tell them a lot.

“What that clearly tells us is it’s not trees, it’s probably not the equipment, it’s 90% likely to be animal activity,” Kline said. “When we did the line patrols and so forth, we actually discovered four transformers that had bushing damage, charring from animals being electrocuted, and we replaced all of it.”

In November, Kline mentioned that animal activity might be the cause for the outages, but some expressed skepticism that squirrels could be causing the outages around the same time every day.

“Trust me, it’s not the same squirrel,” Kline said Wednesday. “They don’t make that same mistake twice. Not to be graphic about it, but they just don’t.”

Kline encouraged residents to still email him and let him know what’s going on, whether the situation improves or future outages occur.

“Keep us posted," he said. "We are monitoring, we did install special monitoring equipment, but from what I’ve seen, it’s a good improvement so far.”

One resident spoke Wednesday, saying that he was a “primary complainer” at the November meeting but that the outages now are “virtually non-existent.”

Intersection of deadly crash discussed

The council also discussed the recent fatal accident on Md. 31 and Melford Road that left two women dead.

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Mayor Neal Roop urged residents to be more cautious at that intersection.

“What I do, when I come to that stop sign, whether I know there’s only one car there or not, if I’m 100 percent sure, I will wait until that car turns onto Melford and then pull out,” Roop said. “Wait five seconds, 10 seconds tops, to make sure that road is clear.”

Chief Byron Welker of the New Windsor fire company followed up on Roop’s comment about residents being more cautious drivers on Md. 31.

“It’s a straight road, it’s a 55-mph road,” Welker said. “So you gotta use a little more caution like it’s a highway. I think, also, it’s just people having difficultly judging the speed of oncoming cars. Also, because it’s such a long, straight road, and with a 55 mile-an-hour speed limit, they don’t look like they’re coming as fast as they are.”

According to Roop, the intersection isn’t within the town limits, but it is used by many New Windsor residents.

Roop said he emailed someone at the State Highway Administration about the intersection.

“They’re going to be waiting for the Maryland State Police report to come back and take a look at that intersection," he said.

Roop also addressed what it would take to get a stoplight at that intersection.

“State Highway [Administration] does a study and that depends on traffic, and there’s a whole lot of variables that they look at. If it’s not warranted, they won’t put one there. If it is, and I’m sure they will also include the double fatality [Tuesday] night, I don’t know all the ins and outs, what’s included in that study, but they have been studying it and I’m sure they will study it again.”

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