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: editor@pacw.org         

Colombo, Sri Lanka:  The island nation of Sri Lanka experienced its worst blackout in the past twenty years.  The outage lasted nearly seven hours, according to the Ceylon Electricity Board, who said its main Chinese-built coal-fired power plant was offline due to a massive system breakdown. The plant normally supplies more than half of the country's electricity. After the blackout, several small plants supplied power until the 900 MW plant was restarted. They could not produce enough electricity to go around, so for a short time there were power cuts for seven and a half hours, with five and a half during the day and two hours at night.
 
Island Garden City of Samal, Philippines:  A complete power blackout struck the Island of Samal this morning after a sub-marine cable was damaged by a ship’s anchor. Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative (Daneco), who operates the cable that connects the island to the electricity grid, said it was ‘totally damaged’ and would take quite a bit of time to repair. The island is home to over 95,000 people and is a popular tourist destination with over 70 resorts. Most resorts were able to remain powered using generators, however, local residents were left in the dark for nearly two weeks until an emergency generator arrived. It provides approximately 8 MW, which will cover the island’s estimated power demand of 5 MW until the cable is repaired.
 
Mombasa, Kenya:  On Friday evening, the city of Mombasa and surrounding counties experienced a major power outage that lasted over the weekend. Nearly two million people live in the affected areas and many shops and businesses were forced to close when they ran out of fuel for their generators. Kenya power released a statement saying a technical hitch affected a high voltage transmission line that links Nairobi with the Coastal region.

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea:   The country’s Prime Minister has blamed a string of constant power outages across Papua New Guinea on “human misconduct". The government says there is more than enough power generated in the cities of Port Moresby and Lae to meet the current demands, however they are blaming staff at PNG Power for deliberately cutting the power supply amidst a nationwide workers’ strike over entitlements. According to the Prime Minister, there were further concerns with claims of criminal vandalism of power lines and communications lines. Such actions have now been declared a criminal offence and will be fully investigated by police.
 
St. James, Jamaica:  The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) reported a "fairly widespread" blackout that left tens of thousands in darkness around 7pm. A number of parishes were affected, including Manchester, Hanover, St Mary, Kingston and St James. JPS later said a number of generating units went offline simultaneously and advised complete restoration would take some time due to the process of ramping up the units before energising the lines. The previous month, the light and power company advised that customers may see these types of outages as they convert the Bogue power station in St. James to natural gas.

Mindanao, Philippines:  Rolling blackouts hit the island of Mindanao, the second largest and southernmost major island in the Philippines. The island has seen daily outages lasting for one to two hours on most of the island. In Davao City, where most of the island’s 20 million people reside, the outages have been nearly five hours. Local authorities have blamed the outages on prolonged drought that has reduced generation from the hydroelectric power plants on the Agus River, and a tree that fell on the 138-kV Davao-Toril transmission line of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines. Many locals claim the blackouts are due to mismanagement and design errors in the interconnection system. 

Berkeley, California, U.S.A.:   The center of the 1960’s counterculture movement lost power at about 9:35am today. Officials at Pacific Gas and Electric Co. said about 43,000 homes and businesses were hit, with traffic lights out, students roaming the streets and some stranded in elevators. A 115 kV transformer (that had just been installed over the weekend) failed and resulted in a small fire at the El Cerrito substation. The transformer cables made a very loud sound as they failed, which prompted some to report that there had been an explosion.
 
Zurich, Switzerland:  On A major blackout struck the heart of Zurich around 2pm local time today. The home to a number of big banks and the Bahnhofstrasse, one of the world's most exclusive shopping avenues, lost power when at least two transformers shut down due to unknown reasons. The outage affected over five thousand customers according to the local electricity provider EWZ. It also noted that the outage was caused by a technical defect, but did not elaborate. Controls found no fault, so power was able to be restored in under one hour.  

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

Power. Flexible. Easergy.
BeijingSifang June 2016