Equipment accident causes Belpre power outage

Photo by Evan Bevins An excavator operated by a contractor accidentally pulled down a transmission line near the AEP Ohio substation shown here on Congress Road near Clement Avenue in Belpre Thursday.

BELPRE — More than 4,000 AEP Ohio customers in the Belpre area were without electricity for several hours Thursday after an accident near the company’s substation on Congress Road.

The outage was reported at 9:09 a.m., said Fay White, a spokeswoman for AEP Ohio. It happened while a contractor was doing work near the substation at 472 Congress Road, not far from Clement Avenue.

“The excavator ended up pulling down the wire,” she said.

Among the customers affected was Belpre Elementary School, but classes remained in session, Principal Joy Edgell said.

“The teachers just adapted,” she said. “We moved kids to rooms that had lots of natural light, or outside.”

About 10 parents came to pick up their children, but the rest went about their day, despite the absence of computers, air conditioning and other electronic equipment until about 1:30 p.m., Edgell said. The cafeteria staff offered students peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches or subs since the ovens wouldn’t work.

“Everybody just pulled together and made it work,” she said.

A generator powered most of Belpre Landing, the rehabilitation facility off Ohio 7, during the outage, administrator Randy Wright said. The biggest problem was the loss of computers in offices, but there was not much impact on the clients there, he said.

“We were all right,” Wright said.

A Belpre Police dispatcher said around 4:50 p.m. that no problems related to the outage had been reported.

Power to many customers had been restored between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. Thursday, but crews ran into a delay and more than 1,000 were still without power, according to the company’s website. Power was restored Thursday night.