The Generator works

even when I try to turn it off!

Just after midnight, it’s cold and a little windy but nothing different than the rest of our weather for the last dozen winters, and then: power outage for more than 30 seconds, then the standby generator comes on, and the house electricity is back.

15 minutes go by, still riding the generator, probably, and looking out the windows gives me second thoughts: everyone around us has electricity. Everyone. But the generator runs on.

Doubt is my constant companion, add mechanical systems and electricity and my doubt is exponential. I reason that the transfer switch (automatically shunts power from the mains to the generator and back again) has malfunctioned. Only real answer given that all others have power.

So, off comes the front panel of the transfer switch (it’s cold and windy), I get the wrench to manually switch off gen power back to mains, and: the switch fights back. Doesn’t matter how hard I push, no go, no switching off the generator. Fortunately I eschewed killing the generator manually, and I got on line and submitted a power outage entry to Oncor.

Less than 30 minutes later I got a call from a lineman with Oncor outside my house asking what the problem was. (I don’t blame him, the house looked normal with the gen on). I explained, and he went to investigate. After a few minutes: “Your meter is blank, and all your neighbors have power, so one of the legs of your electrical service is bad”. Much rejoicing on my part, because the generator/switch isn’t malfunctioning, it’s running like it should, and there’s a lineman here who has a diagnosis that fits, and a plan to fix it!

James the Oncor lineman spent 20 minutes in a bucket surrounded by high power lines fixing the wiring to my home in bad weather (‘the feed wires were small and one burned off, I added much bigger ones’), and the moment he re-engaged the transformer the generator slowed then stopped, like it should.

To recap: my home was the only one affected, the gen worked, even when I tried to shut it down, and life is back to normal.

Life is good, and Oncor linemen are terrific. (My wife gave him coffee and warm cookies, hope that doesn’t get him in trouble). Thanks, James!