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Aged electrical system blamed for State House power outage

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

A power outage at the State House this morning is again raising concerns about the aged building.

Secretary of the Senate Pat Harris this morning said a 2,000 AMP breaker went out, causing a building-wide outage for about two hours. 

Late this morning, electricity was back on, but Harris said electricians were still trying to determine what was causing the breaker to trip. It appeared to be an issue with the air conditioning, he said. Some parts of the building were still without air conditioning late this morning.

“This is not an external problem, it’s not an Alabama Power Company problem, this is a building problem,” he said. 

“It’s an ongoing saga of this building.” 

Earlier this year, Alabama Daily News reported that a recent engineering study showed the need for about $51 million in repairs to the 60-year-old, eight-story building. Some are advocating for a new building to better accommodate the public.

The report said that when replacement parts are needed for the electrical system, some have to be “scavenged” because the system is so old that new parts are no longer available.

“If this had happened during a session or a special session, we’d just have to shut it down,” Harris said.

There is talk of two special sessions on reapportionment and prison construction later this year.

Harris also said that outages in the Legislature’s headquarters could affect operations across the street at the Capitol because the State House holds some of the Capitol’s AC infrastructure.

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