ATC blames Madison substation fire on mechanical failure

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV)-- The American Transmission Co. is blaming a substation fire that knocked out power for much of Madison over the summer on a “mechanical failure.”

Last July an ATC transformer caught fire at Madison Gas & Electric’s Blount Street substation. The incident cut electricity for thousands of Madison residents over the course of the day.

In a release Wednesday, ATC said an investigation has revealed that a “mechanical failure” led to the failure of a “voltage-regulating component.” That generated combustible gases and then the fire.

ATC says failures like this one are extremely rare, and that the company is conducting internal reviews and consulting industry peers to find out if any improvement can be made.

ATC is working with the Wisconsin DNR and the city to dispose of chemicals left near the site of the substation fire. That includes fluids used to insulate the transformer, and PFAS and storm water to put out the fire.

At this time ATC says it does not believe any chemicals leaked into the city’s waterways.

A brand-new transformer has been installed at the substation at Blount Street. ATC expects the substation to be up and running by mid-October. More permanent repairs are planned for next year.