Tuesday, November 24, 2009
LCEC explains massive Sanibel and Captiva power outage
Power has been restored to all customers on Sanibel and Captiva following an outage that occurred over the weekend.
On Saturday at approximately 10 p.m., an insulator on a LCEC power line failed. An insulator is a device used to isolate conductors (wires) from the distribution pole that support them. When kept intact, insulators also maintain proper distance between the various conductors in an electric line.
When the insulator failed (the nature of this failure is still being investigated) the conductor that it supported came into close proximity with one or more of the other conductors. This initiated an electric arc (or a flash) from one conductor to another. The arc is an electrical breakdown of the air between the two conductors. The ionized air can conduct extremely high currents of electricity causing a short circuit (or a fault).
Normally, protective devices located upstream of fault will detect the event and operate equipment to de-energize (or isolate) the short circuit. This will prevent or minimize any damage to equipment. Unfortunately, in this occurrence, the upstream protective device did not operate properly (this is being analyzed by LCEC personnel).
Standard LCEC engineering practice includes the installation of a back-up protective device that in this case operated to de-energize the line. Unfortunately this did not occur before damage to LCEC's electrical facilities had taken place.
LCEC crews, contract crews, supervisors and system operations employees worked through the night tirelessly to restore power. By 1 a.m. on Sunday, approximately 2,500 customers on Sanibel were restored. At 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, an additional 600 customers on Captiva were restored and by 7:50 p.m., all customers were restored.
All repairs have been made with the exception of a small portion of damaged underground line. Crews were able to rebuild this portion of line overhead in order to restore power in a timely manner. LCEC will continue to work to repair the underground line which typically takes longer to repair.
LCEC appreciates the patience of our customers during this event and we applaud the workers who were committed to the job until power was restored.
For more information on electrical safety, visit www.lcec.net.