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Power outage forces school closure in Wilson

The Wilson Central School District was forced to close Wednesday, its second day of school, because of a power failure that affected 2,100 customers, according to National Grid, which reported a mechanical problem with a temporary substation.

Early in the day, a “worst-case scenario” could have meant that the power would be out until after midnight in some areas of the Village of Wilson, but by 3 p.m., the nearly 600 who remained without power were expected to be back online by early Wednesday evening, said National Grid spokesman Stephen F. Brady.

“The good news is that of the original 2,100 we were able to restore 1,500,” Brady said Wednesday afternoon. However, he acknowledged that this was of little consolation to the 600 customers who expected to have no electricity for nearly 12 hours.

“I gave a prayer of thanks this wasn’t the first day of school,” said Superintendant Michael S. Wendt.

Wendt said he first made the call to delay school by two hours, but later decided to close for the entire day.

“I couldn’t get a definite answer, but they told me it would be longer rather than shorter, so we decided to use an emergency day,” Wendt said.

Brady said National Grid learned around 6 a.m. that it had an equipment problem at a mobile substation on Lake Street/Route 425, which serves most of the village and town.

The mobile unit is being used while workers rebuild a permanent substation near the former Pfeiffer plant, 683 Lake St.

Brady said “field ties” were made to other substations while repairs were being done at the substation, which was how National Grid workers were able to restore power to most of the customers, many of whom were back online before noon.

However, that was not an option for areas of the village closer to the mobile substation, such as the Wilson schools and homes and businesses in the village, he said.

He said around 3 p.m. that National Grid was able to make the needed repairs to get the Wilson mobile substation back online.

But in the meantime, ne said, National Grid had already trucked in a backup mobile substation as a contingency.

“The good news is, if there is a secondary problem, we won’t have to wait,” Brady said.