Major outage knocks out power to more than half the city

Jul. 08, 2013 @ 06:22 PM

More than half of High Point’s electric customers were briefly without power following a major outage Monday afternoon.
About 27,270 homes and businesses lost power just before 2 p.m., when one of the four transmission delivery points on High Point’s electric grid failed, said Garey Edwards, city electric department director.
Power was knocked out to five city substations.
Portions of the city that were affected included areas near Oak Hollow Lake along U.S. 311 and Eastchester Drive, the Westchester Drive/W. Lexington Avenue area, parts of downtown and east central High Point and areas near Business Interstate 85 in south High Point.
Power was restored within 30 minutes to all of the customers affected, according to the city. High Point has about 40,000 electric customers.
The outage occurred when switching gear failed at the Jackson Lake Road substation delivery point. The city pays Duke Energy to transmit power to its grid from the Catawba Nuclear Station in South Carolina.
The switching gear failed because of new settings that were put in place at the delivery point to comply with new federal regulations governing transmission reliability standards, Edwards said.
The settings were decided on jointly by the city and Duke, but will be tweaked. The city has had this arrangement with Duke for a long time, and officials said it’s unusual to see equipment failure on this scale at an electricity delivery point.
“We don’t want to put anybody out of power, naturally, but we also have got to work within certain guidelines, and we’re reassessing our position on that right now,” Edwards said. “We’ll look at it with our engineers and see if there’s something we need to re-evaluate or change. Then we’ll sit down with Duke and say, ‘This is what we need to do to keep this from happening again.’”
Monday’s outage was unrelated to other recent widespread power failures in the city.
Last week, about 3,000 customers lost power for several hours after an underground cable failed at the Burton Avenue substation. A problem at another power station in mid-June knocked out power to about 6,000 customers on one of the hottest days of the year. Earlier that month, about 1,000 customers lost power when two vehicles took down power poles in separate crashes.
The outage doesn’t appear to be related to regular maintenance work that is ongoing at some of the substations, Edwards said. Upgrades to the electric system either planned or under construction in the Penny Road and Skeet Club Road area should help prevent the types of problems that occurred Monday, because they will provide additional load capacity, he added.