The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Xcel: Fire won't affect region's power


February 13, 2018

MULESHOE — A fire at an Xcel Energy plant in west Texas took a transformer offline, but the company’s spokesman said the incident won’t have an effect on the region’s power.

A power transformer on a generator at Tolk Station, 13 miles southeast of Muleshoe, caught fire on Feb. 5, according to Xcel Energy Spokesman Wes Reeves.

The oil in the transformer caused a large plume of black smoke to form, but the fire was limited to one unit with the help of an Xcel emergency response team and volunteer firefighters from Muleshoe and Sudan, Reeves said.

Reeves added that Xcel is supplying power to the grid through a system of generating units around the region, and can import power from elsewhere, if necessary.

“We’re actually part of a wider power pool, and we can either buy or sell through the market. It didn’t really affect our ability to supply the need in this area,” he said. “We have plenty of resources on the system that can make up for the loss of that particular unit while it’s down.”

No one was injured and inspections have found no other damage to the plant, according to Reeves.

“One unit was down for maintenance, and the unit that was operating had the fire on the transformer. We don’t know, at this point, what fault occurred that would have caused this fire, but it did destroy this transformer,” he said, adding that no power outages were reported.

He noted that the Tolk unit that was down for maintenance is expected to be online “within days,” and Xcel is searching for a replacement transformer for the second unit.

“It’s not something you can just go to a store and buy. Many times, if you’re building a plant, sometimes those things take months to order,” he said. “But in many cases, too, there are spare transformers around the country, and so we’ve been trying to locate transformers we could bring in.”

Reeves said that while the fire was disruptive, this incident is typical of an industry with “a lot of moving parts.”

“Our people are trained to react quickly to these incidents, and they did a very good job, and of course, our neighbors were very good to come and help us,” he said.


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