Archive for Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Outages bring back memories

June 20, 2001

Baldwin City faced yet another problem with electricity last week.

The storm that rolled through town bringing heavy rains and strong winds last Thursday also left the city without any electricity for a few hours. It was reminicent of the numerous power outages the city suffered two years ago, causing many residents to run for the candles, old-fashioned telephones and other non-electrical gear.

"The storm caused all of our electrical problems," utility director Terry McKinney said. "It was quite a devastating storm."

The city first lost electricity at around 2:30 p.m., McKinney said, due to the Kansas City Power and Light substation located at Gardner.

"They had what they called an operation," he said. "Either they have a breaker that opened and closed or a loss of power for a few seconds."

Because Baldwin's electricity comes through Gardner's substation, the city also lost power, he said.

Even though the substation's electricity was off for only a matter of seconds, Baldwin's electricity was off until someone from KCPL could get it going again, McKinney said.

"We've had that happen about four or five times this year," he said. "But we're getting that fixed. That problem will soon be eliminated."

He said the power plant is having a reclosure relay installed that will help during those momentary outages. The reclosure relay will detect when the electricity is back on and bring the city back up as well.

"So instead of having the electricity out for 30 to 40, it will only be out for 30 seconds at the most," McKinney said.

But before Thursday's complete power outage, the city experienced a brown out, city administrator Larry Paine said.

"When the electricity went out, we were generating," Paine said. "Engine three had maybe 50 kw of load on the system.

"When KCPL dropped, we weren't able to get the engine off of the system quickly enough," he said.

Once the feed from KCPL was lost, the one engine was trying to carry the city's load, resulting in low electricity.

"When people see brown lights, the best thing to do is turn everything off," he said.

The city's power came back on again at 2:45 p.m. only to go out again at around 3:10 p.m.

"The second time, KCPL had a line that had a fault," McKinney said.

It took KCPL about three hours to fix the line.

"They really had to do a lot of work," he said.

During that three-hour span, Baldwin was generating electricity, McKinney said, which allowed for the electricity to come on for short amounts of time. But electricity wasn't fully restored until KCPL had fixed its line problems.

"We were trying to carry the city load with the engines," he said. "But the power plant just isn't big enough and the load was too high."

Power was restored to most of Baldwin around 6:30 p.m. There was one small section of town south of High Street around First and Second streets that did not have power until 8:30 p.m. because of power line problems within the city, McKinney said.

Baldwin's situation could have been worse, he said. Some towns and cities in the area were without power until Friday.

"For power to be out for only three hours or so, that was good," McKinney said.

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