Brief power outage on Thursday morning

MARINETTE — Thursday morning, flashing digital clock displays upon various household appliances and gadgets may have caught the attention of hundreds of Marinette-area residents. 

For approximately three hours, starting at 9:54 p.m. Wednesday night, a the failure of a device called a “lightning arrestor,” arrested the flow of power to 670 Wisconsin Public Service customers in Marinette. The source of the issue was located near the intersection of Roosevelt Road and University Drive on the city’s southwest side.

According to WPS spokesman Matt Cullen, the electrical outage extended into the early hours of Thursday morning.  

“It was caused by an issue with a piece of equipment (the lightning arrestor) which is connected at various location to the electrical distribution system,” Cullen said. “Our crews were able to restore service shortly before 1 a.m. (Thursday).”

A lightning arrestor serves a similar purpose as a lighting rod, although it functions in a mechanical way. Both devices protect structures from lightning strikes. However, where a lightning rod conducts electrical current directly to ground, serving as a simple conductive terminal (basically a metal rod that provides an alternate path for an electrical surge), a lightning arrestor protects electrical components in high voltage systems, like an electrical grid. If lightning strikes an electrical pole, the lightning arrestor activates and directs the current away from transformers or other system components and safely to the ground, ensuring that the power to homes and other structure remains flowing.

“I would characterize (these types of issues) as a common situation that our crews will  respond to,” Cullen said.

Cullen’s added that such situations can occur whenever dealing with mechanical components exposed to the elements of Mother Nature. When it happens, WPS crews respond and make the necessary repairs and/or replacements of damaged or failed components.