OLDSMAR — About 13,000 Tampa Electric customers in Oldsmar and western Hillsborough County lost power early Monday, disrupting morning routines and costing businesses thousands of dollars.
The lights went out at 6:07 a.m., causing traffic signals to malfunction and alarms to go off at local stores. Power was restored at 8:41 a.m., said Rick Morera, spokesman for TECO Energy, Tampa Electric's parent company.
"The cause of the outage this morning was the result of a connection failure (splice) on one of our transmission circuits that resulted in the wire coming down just outside of our Sheldon Road substation,'' he said. "We will examine (the) splice in an attempt to determine the root cause of the failure.''
When Missy Ledea, a customer service representative at Circle K Express along Tampa Road, came to work, the lights were off, the register was down and the doors were open because the air-conditioning was not working.
How did she do business? The old-fashioned way.
"We did everything by calculator,'' she said, adding that she wrote down everything people bought on a notepad.
At nearby 7-Eleven, 3855 Tampa Road, owner Kam Johal estimates he lost $1,000 worth of sales in two hours.
His gas pumps were inoperable and some perishable foods started to go bad in the heat.
"We lost ice cream and milk products,'' he said. "The Slurpee machine is still down.''
The air-conditioning system was still off around 11:30 a.m. and the store was stifling.
"We usually have a backup,'' Johal said, adding a repair person was expected soon.
The staff at Dunkin' Donuts, 3720 Tampa Road, was recovering nicely about noon after trying to serve cranky commuters without the benefit of electricity.
Manager Sneha Patel sold iced coffee and doughnuts that had been freshly made prior to the outage.
For her customers, it was paper money or the honor system.
"We couldn't take credit cards and some people didn't have cash,'' she said. "If we knew them, we'd say, 'We'll get you another day.' ''
Eileen Schulte can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 445-4153.