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Digester

The Cayuga County digester in Sennett.

AUBURN — Cayuga County officials are attempting to locate the source of power fluctuations after a surge adversely affected the 911 Center's radio systems approximately three weeks ago.

County E-911 Emergency Communications Department Administrator Denise Spingler told the Legislature's Judicial and Public Safety committee Wednesday that the department had observed a series of power surges at its operations center in the Public Safety Building on County House Road.

Rather than losing power, the system at the Public Safety Building was surging with too much electricity, Spingler explained, at one point causing a loss of radio communications.

That building, along with the Cayuga County Nursing Home and the Soil and Water Conservation District office, receives its electricity from the Cayuga Regional Digester, the facility that processes manure into a biogas fuel suitable for power generation.

Initially, it was suspected there could be an issue with the digester's power generation. However, Doug Kierst, executive director of the Conservation District, which operates the plant, said crews completed a 24-hour inspection of the plant and could not pinpoint a source for the fluctuations.

Legislator Andrew Dennison, R-Ira, who chairs the committee and is also on the Conservation District's board, said the district offices have had no problems with power, so he suspected the problem was with the Public Safety Building itself or transmission between the it and the digester.

“[The district office] isn't having any issues so something strange is going on,” Dennison said. “You'd think there would be issues at both places, so there's got to be something between.”

In response to the surges, E-911 maintenance staff have placed meters on site to continue to monitor for surges or other fluctuations, Spingler said.

Next, staff will be placing a meter on the nursing home building to see if it is also experiencing fluctuations. If not, Spingler said, that would further point to the issue coming from transmission.

“It's something either with the transformer or with the grounding,” Spingler said.

Staff writer Ryan Franklin can be reached at (315) 282-2230 or ryan.franklin@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @RyanNYFranklin

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