Black snake causes county power outage

Published 9:34 am Wednesday, June 17, 2015

About 3,300 Elizabethton Electric Department customers found themselves without out power Monday night, all thanks to a wandering black snake.

While it is unknown where the slithering reptile started, or where it wanted to go, its travels abruptly came to an end when it climbed into a transformer and took the power supply out with it.

The power to about 3,300 homes in the Milligan and Happy Valley communities went out around 9:37 p.m. Monday, EED General Manager Rob Toney said. Power service was restored about 20 minutes later.

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“It all happened so fast,” Toney said. “The outage affected most of the west end of the city in the Powder Branch, Central, Happy Valley and Milligan communities. The power that was interrupted was fed out of the Okolona Substation.”

The electric department was able to respond quickly thanks to alerts from the SCADA monitoring system installed on the EED’s power grid. When an outage occurs, crews are sent a notification alerting them to the time and location of the interruption.

While power was restored quickly, the EED was flooded with calls from concerned citizens wanting to know why their electricity had been interrupted. So many calls came in that the EED was not able to answer all of them, Toney said.

“There were so many calls that not all of them could get through,” he said. “We have 24 phone lines, but when the calls come in at that volume, they just can’t get through.”

In the event that the power goes out, customers who still have access to the Internet through a smart phone, tablet or charged laptop can send the EED a message through email, at, or on Twitter at