A failed transformer in a substation southwest of Grants Pass has cut power to about 4,000 customers along Redwood Highway southwest of town, Pacific Power reported.

A failed transformer in a substation southwest of Grants Pass has cut power to about 4,000 customers along Redwood Highway southwest of town, Pacific Power reported.

Company officials don't expect electricity to be restored until about midnight and are working with Josephine County emergency managers to open a cooling center at the fairgrounds for residents affected by the power loss.

A transformer that serves the Jerome Prairie substation failed at about 9 a.m., Pacific Power spokesman Monte Mendenhall said. The failure disrupted power to all customers served by that substation — roughly the area bordered by Leonard Road on the north and west, Hubbard Road on the east and Jerome Prairie Road on the south.

Rogue Community College is the largest customer in that area, but the college is closed on Fridays through the summer as part of its money-saving furlough of employees.

Mendenhall said crews are still investigating why the transformer failed in the relative cool of the morning, when loads weren't especially high.

The investigation and repairs could take some time, so Pacific Power is bringing in a mobile substation to serve customers, he said. That backup system should be in place by midnight.

To help people deal with the extended outage, the county and utility company have teamed up to offer a cooling center, where people can enjoy air conditioning, at the art building at the Josephine County Fairgrounds. It will be open from noon to 8 p.m.

To help prevent a surge of demand when power is restored, customers are asked to turn off air conditioning units and other appliances during the outage, officials said.

If customers have questions about the outage, they can call Pacific Power at 1-877-LITES OUT (1-877-548-3768).

— Anita Burke