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Snake shorts power out on Saturday night

On a warm summer Saturday night, July 23, as the sun set shortly after 9 p.m., TCEC members in Boise City, Keyes and Elkhart lost power without warning. Members called to report outages and a TCEC service technician and relay technician were dispatched immediately. The system showed a transmission issue so two additional service technicians and the on call crew were dispatched to start patrolling about 70 miles of transmission line to find the cause. The TCEC communications team started posting updates for members on Facebook and Twitter to keep members aware of the work being done.

The on call supervisor, Lyle Mathis, vice president of Operations, came into the office in Hooker to monitor the situation. He called in one of TCEC’s system engineers to help look for the outage cause.

About midnight, employees found a snake on a transformer in the Elkhart substation had caused a short in the system. Employees went to work to restore power. Members in Boise City, Keyes and part of Elkhart had power first. Then they lost it again briefly a short while later so a switch could be closed and power could be restored for everyone. Power was restored to all by 1:20 a.m.

“It’s not always as easy as flipping a switch,” said Mathis. “There’s a lot of investigation that has to go into power restoral. If we rush through it, we could damage equipment that could cause our members to be out of power even longer. Worse than that, it could put our personnel in harm’s way. We’re not going to do that.”

For information on how to prepare for or report outages, visit

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Headquartered in Hooker, Oklahoma, Tri-County Electric Cooperative (TCEC) is a not-for-profit distribution cooperative owned and controlled by its members. TCEC is committed improving the quality of life for its members and communities by delivering safe, reliable and affordable electric service. The cooperative serves about 23,000 meters in the Oklahoma Panhandle, southwestern Kansas, the northern border of the Texas Panhandle and parts of Colorado and New Mexico. TCEC is a Touchstone Energy cooperative. For more information, visit

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