OH - FirstEnergy denies causing damage in surge

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

OH - FirstEnergy denies causing damage in surge By MARK TODD Staff Writer NORTH KINGSVILLE - Officials in North Kingsville and representatives of FirstEnergy differ on what caused a jolt of electricity to race through wires in the area earlier this month, frying electronic gear in the village and sections of nearby Conneaut. North Kingsville administrators believe a power surge within FirstEnergy's network caused damaged reported by many residents the evening of Oct. 9. The utility claims the culprit is a lightning strike on Keefus Road in Conneaut and is not obliged to compensate customers for their loss. Both sides are backing up their arguments with documentation, ranging from technical data to a report from a storm-monitoring satellite in outer space. The incident scorched computers, televisions and other electricity-fed property in the area, said Mayor Ron McVoy. Police and firefighters responded to alarms and calls of smoke and electrical smells, he said. "The next morning, when businesses opened, we got calls," McVoy said. "Five circuit-breakers at the Village Hall were totally tripped." Brett Harley, FirstEnergy area manager, said he still is investigating the incident, but believes evidence points to lightning as the cause. "We patrolled our equipment to identify anything that could cause an equipment failure," he said. "We found nothing (that would cause a surge)." No corrections have been made to FirstEnergy equipment since the surge. If the equipment was to blame, the problem would have been repeated, Harley said. A review of dispatch information indicates the problem originated in the 400 block of Keefus Road, Harley said. A resident there called authorities shortly before 11 p.m. Oct. 9 to report a transformer was burning and an explosion occurred in front of his house, he said. Fifteen minutes later, another Keefus resident called 911 to report a utility pole fire, Harley said. Repairs crews later found a ceramic insulator in a front yard a distance from the pole, indicating it was blown loose, which is common with a lightning strike. McVoy and village officials aren't so sure. A village police officer patrolling near the Village Green Golf Course reported seeing a brilliant flash to the east, McVoy said. As he began driving to the spot, calls starting coming in on outages and smoke smells, he said. At the suggestion of a resident who lost property, McVoy contacted Global Atmospherics Inc., of Tucson, Ariz., which uses satellites to track the location of severe weather. A report recently received from the company, purchased by the village, said there was no lightning activity within a 15-mile radius of North Kingsville's Village Hall on the evening in question. McVoy said he left telephone messages with FirstEnergy's claim representative in Youngstown, but the calls were not returned as of Thursday morning. At Wednesday's Village Council meeting, officials heard from a South Ridge Road resident who lost two televisions and surge protectors in the incident. The resident said FirstEnergy was not cooperating with his claim. "CEI never admits to anything," Councilman Lawrence Eller, said.


-- Doris (reaper@pacifier.com), October 20, 2000

Moderation questions? read the FAQ