Power outage solution in the works?

By Nick Blank
Posted 11/20/18

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – It’s common for city residents to come home from work and see their microwave blinking.

To reduce the number of blips residents such as this, city officials are …

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Power outage solution in the works?

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – It’s common for city residents to come home from work and see their microwave blinking.

To reduce the number of blips residents such as this, city officials are considering a pilot program to switch from its current recloser system to a system that limits the number of people affected by the inconvenience of short-lived power outages. City Manager Steve Kennedy said a fuse sacrifice system would help identify where the problem is.

“What we’re finding out is with the recloser system, is that it’s very sensitive, so when it detects any fault it causes an interruption and there might be 10 people actually impacted by an outage, but everybody that’s on that circuit feels that blip,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy said he had heard several complaints from residents about the power grid and the goal is to improve the power service. Reclosers, installed a few years ago, will attempt to switch the power back on three times to reduce outages, but power users on the circuit who wouldn’t be affected otherwise also get a blip.

“Every one of them sees it when there’s blip,” Kennedy said. “To put it bluntly, we’re ticking off 300 or 400 people every time there’s a little surge.”

In April, city council members approved a $10.7 million loan from State Bank in Jacksonville over three years to improve underground cables, lines and substations.

The cause of the outages can be internal or external and range from an aging infrastructure problem to hanging trees on power line or an eager rodent doing some damage.

“We’ve seen with the last three or four blips a mixture of birds and squirrels,” said Mike Null, assistant city manager and public works director. “What Mr. Kennedy brought [to council members] will let us home in and study a much smaller area and let us focus that area and minimize the outages.”

Kennedy said he preferred not to have a set time limit for the pilot, which he hopes to have in place soon, and it would depend on the number of outages for the particular area if it’s widely implemented. Residents would receive a notification in advance about the pilot program.

Council Members Pam Lewis and Van Royal said the blips were frequent enough to warrant a solution tested on a small number of users. Council Member Mitch Timberlake agreed with Kennedy and Null that a trial run may be worthwhile.

“I think we get enough pushback from citizens about the number of blips. That’s become a new word in our lexicon,” Timberlake said. “I think it’s worth taking a look at and seeing if this will help us do a better job.”

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