Flint: Outage leaves 4,200 without power

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Flint: Outage leaves 4,200 without power

Saturday, March 17, 2001

An equipment failure at a Consumers Energy substation left 4,200 homes and businesses on Flint's east side without power Friday.

The 24-minute outage began about 11 a.m. after a problem at the Court Street substation, said Jon Hall, Consumers Energy spokesman.

The cause of the equipment failure is under investigation.

- Bryn Mickle


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), March 18, 2001


The squirrels are at it again.

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), March 18, 2001.

Power outage hits Vista area UNION-TRIBUNE March 15, 2001

VISTA -- A damaged underground cable left about 2,700 San Diego Gas & Electric Co. customers without electricity for several hours yesterday, a spokesman said.

The cable, near Sky Haven Lane at the Oceanside-Vista city limits, caused the power failure shortly after 3 p.m, said Art Larson, a spokesman for Sempra Energy, parent company of SDG&E.

Power was restored to most customers by 6:30 p.m., but about 700 customers were without power until 7:30 p.m. Fifty more households were expected to be without service until about 11:30 p.m., Larson said.

The outage affected an area south of Olive Avenue north of Lake Boulevard and west of Escondido Avenue east of El Camino Real, he said.

Larson said it was unclear last night what damaged the cable.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), March 18, 2001.

A squirrel conspiracy

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), March 18, 2001.

Squirrel sparks suit over fire

Electric utility could face $20m in damages.

By Jerry Bier The Fresno Bee

(Published March 18, 2001) A squirrel could cost Southern California Edison Co. some big bucks -- perhaps as much as $20 million or more.

The federal government filed suit in U.S. District Court in Fresno demanding that the energy company pay the costs of fighting the 1994 Big Creek fire -- reportedly started when a squirrel jumped onto a transformer at the company's powerhouse in the hills northeast of Fresno.

The fire, which burned for more than a week and displaced an estimated 600 mountain residents, destroyed 5,625 acres of forest- system lands before it was finally suppressed.

Although no damage amount is listed in the federal complaint, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael A. Hirst said the cost of fighting the fire was $7.7 million, and the cost for resources, including reforestation, reached more than $11.4 million.

"With interest, damages could be well over $20 million," he said.

The forest fire, battled by 2,200 firefighters from throughout the state, raged for seven days before it could be contained.

Hirst said in court papers that, on Aug. 24, 1994, the squirrel made contact between the transformer's top plate and an energized bar causing a "flashover" that shattered insulators and threw them onto an adjacent embankment.

"The flashover also created a fireball approximately 14 feet wide and 13 to 15 feet deep," Hirst said. "The fireball scorched nearby rocks and ignited ground vegetation on the embankment."

A combination of high temperatures and dry vegetation, along with winds blowing up a canyon wall adjacent to the transformer, fueled the blaze, which "gained intensity as it traveled up-slope," Hirst said.

Steven Conroy, a spokesman at Southern California Edison's corporate office in Rosemead, said the company had not seen the complaint "and we have to reserve comment."

Two years ago, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. settled a similar federal lawsuit for two Northern California fires for $8.25 million.

Hirst said SCE failed to protect the transformer area from the squirrel. There were numerous holes between a concrete pad and chain- link fencing where a squirrel could have entered the enclosed area, he said, and the company failed to install any number of "commercially available and effective animal deterrents," he said.

Southern California Edison also failed to provide a wide-enough firebreak on the forest- and brush-covered lands, nor did it have fire-suppression systems near the transformer, not even an operable fire hose, according to the complaint.

The federal government demanded payment for the firefighting costs April 30, 1998, Hirst said, and Southern California Edison has paid nothing.

The lawsuit also says that the company failed to live up to its liability as part of a 50-year license granted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in March 1959, or a 1978 license for the powerhouse where the transformer was located.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), March 18, 2001.

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