SHOW LOW — A June 30 and July 8 power outages at the Show Low Walmart put a significant kink in holiday weekend grocery shopping for residents and visitors to the White Mountains.The retail store is a hub for shoppers from Whiteriver, McNary, Pinetop-Lakeside, Show Low, Linden and many surrounding areas.

Navopache Electric Cooperative (NEC), which provides service to Show Low, Wagon Wheel and many areas throughout the White Mountains and New Mexico, provided the Independent details about the both incidents.

NEC first clarified that information stating that a “blown transformer” caused the June 30th outage was not accurate. Walmart media relations was under the impression that a blown transformer caused the loss of power in the area.

“Electrical services in the Wagon Wheel area of Show Low experienced an outage on Sunday, June 30th,” confirmed Navopache Electric Cooperative Communications Specialist, Jennifer Wade. “Summit Healthcare, Walmart, various small businesses, and residential member were affected by the outage that lasted from 9:10 a.m. through 1:11 p.m. (4 hours).”

The outage was due to a blown fuse on one of the feeder lines from the Wagon Wheel substation said Wade.

“Navopache Electric Cooperative (NEC) patrolled the entire line to ensure the safety of the community prior to re-energizing the line. This extra precaution caused the outage to last longer than it normally might.”

Show Low Walmart Manager Mike Odo was reached for comment on July 8, they day of the second reported power loss at the store.

“They blew another transformer this morning – both times the issue has been because of power outages,” said Odo who echoed the information provided to the Independent by Walmart Customer Service Manager Maria Olsen.

“It messed with the [freon] sensor but we replaced it,” said Olsen on July 8. “We’re at the mercy of power outages,” adds Odo. “They have to let me know more information because I have refrigeration; sometimes I have to call someone and they could be a minimum of three hours out, at least. Today was not so bad because I already had someone here on-site,” he added in response to the July 8 outage.

Walmart staff also confirmed that a faulty freon sensor had a part in the June 30 incident.

The second outage

Just days later, another power outage occurred on July 8. NEC provided immediate response via email to the Independent regarding that outage, which lasted 1.5 hours.

“Electrical services in the Wagon Wheel area of Show Low behind Summit Healthcare/Show Low Lake experienced an outage on Monday, July 8th,” confirms Wade. “Summit Healthcare, Walmart, various small businesses, and residential member were affected by the outage that lasted from 9:27 a.m. through 10:53 a.m. (1.5 hours).”

“The outage was due to a fuse being blown on one of the feeder lines from the Wagon Wheel Substation,” and “Navopache Electric Cooperative (NEC) patrolled the entire line to ensure the safety of the community prior to re-energizing the line.”

Wade also said that the extra precaution caused the outage to last longer than it normally might.

Construction conundrum

NEC, via email, also indicated that the Summit expansion project could be compounding such problems.

“Additionally, due to the new construction that Summit Healthcare is undergoing, NEC’s system configuration is not in the normal configuration,” writes Wade. “Because of this temporary change, more customers were out than normally would have been.”

“Once NEC completes the construction for Summit Healthcare, the system configuration will return to normal. NEC appreciates our member’s patience while we do everything possible to restore service while ensuring our crews safety as well as our communities safety,” Wade adds.

Ready, set, freeze

Despite the power outages and potential loss of product, produce and sales, Walmart says it is prepared for any unplanned outages or circumstances that may come their way this summer.

And, it seems fair to add that, for the layperson, terms referring to electricity and power are confusing. Whether the issue stems from a transformer, a fuse or a feeder line, Walmart will be ready to maintain their cold and frozen foods at optimum temps according to Senior Manager Tara Aston of Walmart National Media Relations.

"We do have generators is some stores but those are mostly in coastal regions," explains Aston. "When the power fails, we take immediate action and implement specific procedures to prevent product loss."

"We cover the open cases with a special insulator material to keep those foods as cold as possible. In some cases, we also use dry ice," she adds. 

"For the walk in coolers, we'll seal them and we may put dry ice in there as well," also says Aston." And if we have a refrigerated truck on site that is making a delivery, we will utilize them."

"We have very strict guidelines we follow and if any food(s) falls under the correct temperature, we dispose of it." 

Reach the reporter at lsingleton@wmicentral.com

Laura Singleton is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering Show Low city government, business and education.

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