Archive for Wednesday, August 29, 2001

Baldwin City power goes dark again

August 29, 2001

Power outages early Thursday morning, early Saturday morning and even Sunday evening in Baldwin City are blamed on storms that rolled through the area last week.

City Administrator Larry Paine said lightning hit the city's northwest feed last Thursday and broke the wire causing a loss of power for a short amount of time to part of Baldwin. Not everyone experienced a loss of power.

Another storm went through Baldwin early Saturday morning leaving four snapped power poles in its wake.

"One pole was broken in three separate places," Paine said. "It takes quite a bit of wind velocity to do something like that."

The downed poles, which were on the Kansas City Power and Light line between Baldwin and the Gardner substation, caused electricity to go out around 12:30 a.m.

Paine said the power was back on about three hours later after KCPL transferred power so Baldwin was receiving electricity from the Ottawa substation instead of the Gardner substation.

If that had not been done, he said Baldwin would have been without power for 17 hours like the rest of the KCPL rural service, including Heritage Tractor, was.

Saturday morning's storm and electricity problems are also to blame for the two and a half hour power outage Sunday evening at around 6:40, Paine said.

"The foundation for Sunday night's problem was rerouting the power back to the Gardner substation," he said.

KCPL put the Baldwin load back on the Gardner feed because, Paine said, the load out of Ottawa was too much and was about to trip the circuitry.

"When KCPL starting moving power across, there were parallel loads," he said. "The Gardner substation was beginning to take load from the Ottawa substation."

When the Gardner substation feed was coming up, Paine said KCPL shut the Ottawa feed down and Baldwin was trying to operate at a balanced load point, or maintain a balanced voltage level.

He said the Load Tap Changer, or volatage regulator, which automatically adjusts itself, indicated Gardner had low voltage. The LTC tried to compensate for the low voltage by creating more, but the system indicated there was an over-current and tripped the circuitry.

"It did what it was supposed to do," Paine said.

The city's new reclosure relay tried to re-engage after 30 seconds, but he said it noticed there was still an over-current and did not come back on.

"When the LTC maxed out, it locked in place and wouldn't allow it to go back down once the Gardner substation had power," Paine said.

The delay in restoring power to the city, he said, began with identifying the problem.

"It was the first time we've run across that problem," Paine said. "So we were trying to work our way through all the diagnostics trying to identify the problem."

He said the problem Baldwin experienced Sunday would be eliminated with a second feed into the city.

"We're working on bringing another feed into Baldwin," Paine said. "But it's going to cost money to do that. It's not something we can do next week."

Baldwin did not immediately start generating Sunday night because of safety concerns, he said, both for the workers and the equipment.

"When the power goes off, you just don't go flip a switch," he said. "If the problem's with the substation, you can't send power down there. We really need to identify the problem, particularly because of the danger.

"We don't want to endanger our own people as well as the equipment and the ability to serve the community," Paine said. "We're just very, very careful on the safety side."

He said Baldwin started to generate shortly before the Gardner substation brought its feeds up.

"We apologize for the inconvenience in terms of the time before we started the engines," he said. "But I give these guys a lot of credit for analyzing the problems and finding the solution as quickly as possible."

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