Short circuit at BISD

Short circuit at BISD

For the second time in a month the power at the Beaumont Independent School District administration building has gone out and the emergency generator installed by Walker Electric Company failed to turn on.

The first time the power went off last month, BISD Superintendent Carrol Thomas lost his cool, according to sources, because he was under the impression that Calvin Walker, of Walker’s Electric, had already hooked up the back-up power source. The source said Thomas was angry and expressed his displeasure to Walker. On Thursday, May 12 when the power went off again, the source said there were more serious issues as employees rushed through the building unplugging computers in an effort to keep them from being affected by an electrical spike.

When Walker was asked if the problem was because the generator had back-fed electricity through the building, he responded that he generator was still not hooked up.

Coincidentally city records show a permit was request from the city to install the generator eight months ago, on Sept. 15, 2010.

“The generator wasn’t even hooked up,” Walker said. “It is whatever it is they told you. It was no fault, no fault at all. Just old wire that went bad underground. The old wire went bad underground and we came in to fix it. The wire went bad underground and underground it will flash up but it flashed up underground.”

According to records from city hall, BISD sent a request to the city, on Thursday, to change its service drop from an underground system to an overhead system because there was a problem with the conduit. City officials said that is all they were told but when they heard more about the story, they decided to send an electrical inspector to investigate.

“All we knew was they had faxed a permit request over for new service to the building. We are sending our electrical inspector to the look into what is going on over there,” said Chris Boone, community development director. “They will be there today, sometime this afternoon.

“They said had some sort of short in an underground that caused the power to go out but it didn’t trip the generator.”

A press release from BISD stated, “The Beaumont ISD Administration Building experienced a power outage from approximately 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. today. The outage is believed to have been caused by an electrical short in a breaker box that allows power to enter the building. There are approximately 145 employees in the building. The generator did not kick on because of the electrical short that occurred in the breaker box which feeds into the building’s power. This will be repaired this weekend.

“Everything returned to normal just a short time after power was restored.”

Chief Building Inspector Danny Daniels said that after inspectors had gone to the administration building at 3395 Harrison Ave., they found that a 3-foot piece of wire had shorted between the electrical transfer switch and the generator. He said the wire, which was installed by Walker’s Electric, appears to have shorted out inside the conduit.

“We can’t know that for sure unless we take the wire out and try to determine if it was nicked during installation,” Daniels said. “The transfer switch to the generator, they had power outage and tripped the generator  and the transfer switch had a malfunction on it and what they have done temporarily is they jumped the transfer switch – took it out of the loop – and they are going to be correcting a three-foot piece of wire that got hot underground. They are going to go overhead this weekend and they will be calling us out for an inspection Sunday.”

The Examiner has submitted a request for payment records to determine if Walker’s Electric has already been paid for installing the generator.

Walker is currently under investigation by state and federal authorities related to his work and billing at BISD. The FBI raided his home in December as part of an ongoing grand jury investigation. The details of that investigation are part of the secret proceeding guaranteed during the grand jury process. Federal officials have declined to provide specific comments on the investigation into Walker – saying only that he is being investigated.

The Examiner will continue to monitor this story as information becomes available.