Dam power makes clocks crazy: 'I thought my watch was broken'

OAKRIDGE, Ore. - People in Oakridge aren't crazy: Their clocks have been going crazy.

Electric clocks are running faster than wrist watches and the clocks on phones in the mountain town east of Eugene.

"I thought my watch was broken," said resident Bert Schragl.

The clock plugged into the power outlet caught him off guard.

"It's usually slow if we have a power surge or the electricity goes off," Schragl said. "I thought my wrist watch was bad. I just happen to look up and holy smokes it's fast."

Residents report digital and electric clocks are running fast, causing them to be late to work or other appointments.

"I had a play I was going to yesterday and I wanted to make sure it was the right time and I was running about 15 minutes behind," said Ross Spencer, who owns the Figaro's Pizza in Oakridge. "It just seems strange that an electrical surge or something like that can cause all the clocks to move ahead. I've never heard of that."

KVAL News got to the bottom of things Monday: Oakridge gets its power from Lane Electric Co-Operative. The co-op gets power from local dams. When Bonneville Power switched the source for Oakridge's power from the Lookout Point Dam to Hills Creek Dam, the 60 cycle per second power bumped up to 61 cycles per second.

For digital clocks designed to tell time based on electrical cycles, things got about a second per minute faster.

"It's a matter of the difference in the generating cycles and all that does is speed up specifically clocks," said Dave D'Avanzo from Lane Electric. "There is no damage, there is no long term effects."

He expected the problem to be resolved sooner than later - probably by the end of the week.

Until then, clocks are the talk of the town in Oakridge.

"It startled me for a minute, but I figured oh well it's probably a defective clock," said resident Laska Williams. "Almost everyone I talked to that had electric clocks said the same thing and same amount of time."