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:         

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands:  The islands of St. Thomas and St. John suffered widespread power losses for several hours this morning. The problems started shortly after midnight and led to the largest in a series of interruptions that took place intermittently all week. According to the Water and Power Authority, the blackout began when two generating units failed, which caused each of the feeders to trip offline. The utility brought additional units online to help restore power, which was achieved by 6:22am. One month later, on June 8, both St. Thomas and St. John experienced a complete blackout for several hours, with three generating units failing on that occasion.
Seattle, Washington, U.S.A:  A raccoon managed to get inside a suburban substation early this morning and the little critters’ curiosity brought down the power grid in several areas. The furry bandit caused thirteen separate system outages that cut electricity to 40,000 Seattle homes. An explosion was reported at 3am when the raccoon had come into contact with equipment at the station. Unfortunately, the intruder did not survive the ordeal. Electricity was not fully restored until about 8am.

Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A:  An outage was reported at 10:45pm this evening in and around Salt Lake City. Over 60,000 Rocky Mountain Power customers in and around downtown were affected. There had been high winds in the area; however the utility later confirmed that a transmission interruption initiated at an airport substation took place just prior to the outage and was the likely cause. Power was restored to all but a handful of homes by 2:53am.

Paris, France:   Union members staged a day of strikes across the country to protest a government bill that extends the 35-hour workweek and also makes it easier to hire and fire workers. Members of the CGT union at 16 of France's 19 nuclear plants, which provide the majority of the country's electricity, voted to strike and walked off their jobs. Nuclear plants are required to maintain a minimal level of production, even during strikes, for security reasons. However, workers in Brittany cut the electricity supply from a power station in Saint-Malo-de-Guersac that caused a blackout for at least 125,000 homes, according to the RTE electricity network. Service was restored to most customers early in the afternoon.

Nairobi, Kenya:  It isn’t very often that a nationwide blackout can literally be blamed on monkey business, but that is exactly what happened across Kenya today. KenGen, the local operator, said their electricity supply was knocked out at 11:30am local time after a monkey had climbed onto the roof of the Gitaru Power Station and fallen onto a transformer. The contact caused it to trip and caused other systems at the station to overload, resulting in a loss of more than 180MW. This sequence triggered a widespread outage across the entire country.

Idaho Falls, Idaho, U.S.A:  An equipment failure at the Goshen Substation caused a widespread blackout for 52,153 customers. This represents nearly all customers of Rocky Mountain Power, Idaho Falls Power, Fall River Electric and Lower Valley Energy. The station is the main feed for the entire valley and a fire was suspected as the cause of the outage. Officials were asking everyone to unplug electrical devices and to turn off their water and irrigation systems, because they were also losing water pressure. 

Richmond, New Zealand:   A blackout this morning struck the Tasman District after a network issue arose at Cobb Power Station. At the time, a transformer at a station in Stoke was out of service for maintenance and Cobb was the sole supplier for part of the network. The outage affected over 10,000 customers in Motueka, Golden Bay and Mapua. Power was gradually restored once the transformer at Stoke was up and running again, which was completed in just under two hours
Time and location of the System & Power Disturbances in 2016.

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:

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