Alabama: Cause of power outage probed : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread


Cause of power outage probed

By Ken Retherford DAILY Weekend Editor --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Decatur Utilities is investigating the cause of a power failure Wednesday night that plunged about 1,800 Southwest Decatur customers into the dark for as long as 2= hours.

Ricky Pounders, utility customer service manager, said the telephones are always active when a power failure occurs, but when one occurs during prime television time, the numbers increase substantially.

"The phone rings off the hook when that happens because when the power goes off, it also knocks cable television off," Pounders said.

"A lot of folks probably missed the Braves game. That's what I would be fussing about."

Although the reason for the power loss is logged as equipment failure, Pounders said DU is trying to narrow down what happened at the Griffin substation, about a half-mile off Beltline Road Southwest on Eighth Street Southwest.

Pounders said a 46,000-volt fuse blew, something that isn't supposed to happen.

Circuit breakers are supposed to trip before a situation gets bad enough to cause one of these high-voltage fuses to blow, he said.

"We think it may have been a switch malfunction," Pounders said. "This is a line that allows linemen to provide clearance on one side of the line and keep the line hot on the other, ensuring continuous power. Basically, it's a line used for switching purposes."

DU has linemen at the substation this morning attempting to isolate the cause.

"There has to be a cause, and it's difficult to investigate something like this in the dark," he said. "That's why we waited until this morning to go back to the substation."

The power went off shortly before 7, he said, and all customers were restored by 9:25. The time without power varied from about an hour to 2= hours, depending on location, he said.

"I will say that for that many people to lose power this way is unusual," Pounders said.

-- Martin Thompson (, August 11, 2000

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