A rainstorm that dropped between two and three inches of rain in an hour near the Elephant Butte Reservoir has forced the US Bureau of Reclamation to stop generating power at its plant downstream from the dam.
Following the rains on Sunday night, culverts in the area were unable to handle the water as it rushed down the canyon and eventually flooded the parking area near the power plant. The system automatically shut down as water gushed under the door and soaked the electric system, triggering an emergency notice to USBR employees.
‘We can’t get back on the grid with the power plant because our transformers are all wet,’ Galan Hanson, Facility Manager at USBR’s Elephant Butte office said Monday. The small plant generates about 29,000kW of power that is marketed by the Western Area Power Administration. Officials there were notified Monday that the plant would be off the grid for about two weeks, Hanson said.
Two generators are being used to provide power to the plant. Much of the facility had been cleaned by Monday afternoon. Transformers that were soaked will be taken apart, inspected and dried out. A worst-case scenario might require them to be sent out for repair. Hanson said a review of records since the plant was built in the 1940s showed no similar situations of flooding.