By TIFFANY RONEY
Field sprayers are supposed to kill pests, not kill the lights.
All of Abilene experienced a power outage when a field sprayer’s boom made connection with Westar Energy’s 115,000-volt line. The sprayer-line accident occurred east of Deer Road.
Tom Sydow, regional director of Westar, said a group of Westar linemen were walking along the transmission line to find the cause of the power outage when they came across a man and his sprayer.
“It was pretty obvious what happened,” Sydow said. “Nobody got hurt, but he blew out his tire and started a little fire.”
The transmission line normally has a two-way feed to the Abilene area, but because of ongoing repairs, Abilene currently draws all of its energy from a source in Salina.
“If this thing would have happened when both our feeds were in, it might have caused a blink but it wouldn’t have taken the lights out,” Sydow said. “When it’s just a one-way feed, the protection scheme knocks out the line so you don’t risk running juice through the guy’s sprayer and the ground.”
Sydow said the accident could have caused much worse effects than the flickering of lights Abilene experienced Wednesday afternoon.
“Without the protective equipment, the farmer’s equipment, our equipment and his life would have beenin jeopardy,” Sydow said.
Sydow said the man will not suffer consequences for the misplacement of his sprayer. The wire was minimally burned but is still usable. If the company discovers more damage to the wire, though, they may charge him to cover the damage.
Otherwise, Westar plans to continue moving forward with the rebuilding of its transmission line, which Sydow said is a three-year process.
“We’ve got some good things for service in the future,” Sydow said. “Once we’ve been through it all, man, our service will be good.”