Blackout Watch

System Power Outages

Author: Clare Duffy, ESBI, Ireland

Analysis of system power outages can help us learn and avoiding similar events in the future. If you have information on any blackouts, please e-mail to editor@pacw.org.

Caracas, Venezuela: The capital city of 2 million fell dark this evening, with as much as half of the country suffering the same fate. The President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro declared it an attempt by saboteurs to create chaos prior to upcoming elections. He displayed a photo on state TV of what appeared to be a cut conductor cable lying on the floor and claimed that power had been restored in record time. Critics of the government say a lack of maintenance and incompetence was likely to blame.

Kamukunji, Kenya: Residents of the Kamukunji Constituency were so upset after a weeklong blackout that more than 300 of them took to the streets to protest the Kenya Power and Lighting Company. The outage was local to the Solai area, which is home to over 200,000 residents. Most businesses and homes were affected by the outage and many were afraid criminals would take advantage of the darkness.

Lusaka, Zambia: A major portion of the country was plunged into darkness for over four hours after a system failure at a power station. The failure caused a loss of 900 Megawatts at the Kafu Gorge Power Station and 655MW from Kariba North Bank Power Station. Officials suspect a defective isolator on a line was responsible and quickly isolated it out of the circuit.

Buenos Aires, Argentina: The city of nearly 3 million residents began suffering prolonged blackouts throughout various neighborhoods that in some cases lasted for days. The outages started amidst record high levels of energy consumption caused by worst heat wave in 40 years, with temperatures above 95 degrees (35 Celsius). It was reported by the Association for the Defense of User and Consumer Rights that 40 percent of the customers of Edenor, Edesur and Edelap suffered blackouts or diminished power.

Ontario, Canada: The most populous province in Canada was blasted by a winter ice storm that caused widespread electricity outages as far east as the Maritime Provinces. Reports indicate roughly 600,000 had lost power, with at least 50,000 still without electricity after five days. Thousands were forced to spend Christmas without heat or power, however it was reported that staff with the hydro companies across the area had become local celebrities of a sort, with workers being met with applause in coffee shops and families sharing their holiday dinners with the employees repairing their power lines.

Lagos, Nigeria: The capital city spent the Christmas holiday in darkness this year, after a blackout swept across the region for several days. Local residents were not given any explanation for the outage except that the power management company had checked the transformers and substation but there were no signs that a major fault had been the cause.

Kitwe, Zambia: A nationwide blackout struck Zambia at 8p.m. local time and lasted nearly ninety minutes. Officials discovered the culprit to be a group of monkeys at the Kariba North Bank Power Station. In a construction area, monkeys had tampered with some loose cables around the site and took a telephone wire near the conductors. This caused a short circuit that led to a fault on the network.

Time and location of the System & Power Disturbances in 2013 and 2014

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