BARTON - Power was knocked out for 13 hours to nearly 3,000 customers including the Ethan Allen plant on Wednesday.
A utility worker discovered that a bullet was lodged in the main power transformer for Barton and Orleans Electric. The bullet caused oil to leak out. The oil is used to keep the machine cool and, with no oil, the transformer overheated and caused the outage.
The incident is under investigation by the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department and the Vermont State Police.
Nothing was stolen from the location, police say, and the motive is not yet clear.
The shooting occurred sometime in the morning with power going out around noon time to customers in Barton and Orleans.
John Morley is the general manager of Orleans Electric. He called the amount oil that leaked to the ground a “substantial amount,” but was unable to be more specific. ENPRO Services Inc. was called and is working to clean up the oil spill.
The transformer is located out in a field off of Baird Road in Barton.
A new transformer is needed and will cost an estimated $400,000, Morley said. The transformer is covered by insurance. Morley is working on buying a new one as soon as possible. The power will be shut off through the night when the new one is installed. Morley could not be specific about when that will be.
Meanwhile Green Mountain Power brought up a portable transformer for use until the new one is installed. Morley expressed his gratitude to GMP and Vermont Electric Coop for providing immediate assistance during the outage.
Police have sent the bullet to the lab as part of the investigation and are awaiting the results, Deputy Sheriff Kyle Ingalls said Thursday. Police are also asking the public to come forward with any information they have on the incident.