A CPS Energy spokesperson says heavier rain will clean dirty insulators, likely preventing more fires this weekend.
SAN ANTONIO — Burning utility poles forced CPS Energy to cut power to neighborhoods across San Antonio Thursday.
Firefighters and utility crews responded to more than 40 such fires before 5 p.m., according to CPS Energy vice president of system operations and reliability LeeRoy Perez.
Thursday morning’s mist mixed with dirt accumulated on power lines. The wet coating provided a pathway for electricity to travel from hot wires, over coiled insulation, onto wooden utility poles.
“As it does that, it begins to create a lot of energy at the top of poles,” Perez said. “It begins to create what we call ‘pole-top’ fires.”
The effect is called “tracking.”
🌧️UPDATE (NOON): Today’s light rain has caused several pole fires due to ‘tracking,’ a reaction when rain/humidity is mixed with dust/dirt buildup on equipment causing electricity to ‘track over.’