Blackout Watch

System Power Outages

by Troy Linkugel, USA

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

Nairobi, Kenya:  Kenya was once again crippled by a nationwide power outage early in the morning. of August 6, 2016.  Kenya Power reported the outage occurred at 5:34am after a technical hitch led to the tripping of the Olkaria Nairobi 220KV line, which is their main power supply line.  Power was restored to many areas around 10am, however Nairobi and other coastal areas took much longer to bring online.

 Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA:  A direct lightning strike on a transmission line at a substation triggered an outage that stretched from Santa Fe to Los Lunas, New Mexico. The darkened area stretched nearly one hundred miles and covered eight counties, with 135,435 customers on 81 substations being affected. The strike hit around 7:30pm and caused a brush fire that spread to the substation.  Many customers reported that their lights at first flickered, then went out completely.  Power had been restored by about 10:45 p.m.
Kingston, Jamaica:  A procedural error at a local power plant led to a widespread outage around 5:30am on August 27. The outage spread across the entire island nation of nearly three million residents. Power was restored later in the day.
 Columbia, South Carolina, USA:   A failure on a high voltage line left nearly 30,000 residents without power. A pole holding the line in a heavily wooded area broke and caught fire. Local utility SCE&G said the outage spanned two counties but they were able to restore power to many customers within a few hours by rerouting power onto other circuits.
San Juan, Puerto Rico:  The island of Puerto Rico suffered a complete blackout that lasted up to three days for many of the 1.5 million residents.  A massive fire at a southern power plant caused two transmission lines running up to 230 kV to fail. The fire destroyed a system that provides power to about thirty percent of the island and caused 15 additional fires as generators began to malfunction.  The power was then shut off island-wide as a safety precaution. By the following day, about 375,000 customers had their power restored, but the remaining residents had to wait through three nights without lights or air conditioning.
Adelaide, South Australia:  A mid-latitude cyclone lashed the state of South Australia with high winds, thunderstorms, lightning strikes, hail and heavy rainfall.  During the storms, at least five system faults occurred within a period of 88 seconds, which led to six separate voltage disturbances.  Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has said that nine of their thirteen wind farms online at the time either disconnected or reduced their output. This loss of 445 megawatts of generation caused the entire system to go offline and was apparently the result of 'voltage ride-through' settings that were set to disconnect or reduce wind turbine output when between three to six disturbances are detected within a defined time period.  They vowed to update these settings to avoid the issue in the future, but the failure meant a loss of power for nearly 1.5 million residents.      

Time and location of the System & Power Disturbances in 2016.


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