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Heat prompts outage


Farragut residents dealt with power outages last week due to an increased demand for power thanks to the heat.

Fred Nelson, general manager for Lenoir City Utility Board, said, “[The power outage] was caused by demand. The demand got so high that one of the circuits actually got so loaded that it started sagging. It sagged into another line and that started operations, and it finally kicked out the substation.

“The lines are physically sagging; they’ve got so much current, and they’re aluminum. In the winter time, it will get so cold a lot of times they will rise, but when they get hot and you’ve got the load they’ll just start sagging. There’s a double circuit at [Grigsby Chapel Road], and the double circuit got so much load it dropped down into the bottom circuit. The lines can’t touch. … When they do, it creates a fault. That’s what happened.”

There were actually two outages: “Monday [Aug. 6] there were probably about 4,000 customers out at least a couple of hours, and then after that we had six to 800 out while they did some work in the station and did some switching in there.”

The work, Nelson said, was an attempt to decrease the demand on the Farragut substation.

“We’re trying to take the load off of the Farragut substation and trying to move it to a Lenoir City substation and the very little we can move to Lovell [Road substation]. This is the main reason that we’re building the new substation at Watt Road and did all that trimming in Farragut,” he added. “We’re building a new substation at Watt Road, and we’re bringing that new line up to the Farragut substation. This will take a lot of that load off of that station. Turkey Creek and all the growth has just been unbelievable in Farragut. [The substation is] overloaded. We’re hoping we have everything switched over, but it is at a peak.”

The growth in Farragut has been difficult to keep up with, Nelson said.

“The growth through Farragut has been a lot for that Farragut substation. I wished we had the Watt Road substation done, and that would definitely have helped solve the problem, but I’m hoping what we’ve done will help. Maybe the temperature will break here a little bit,” he said. “We picked up, just in the month of July, 182 new customers. We’ve been picking up an average of 120, 130 new customers a month. So the demand is there. We’ve got adequate lines; it’s just that they’re building places quicker than we can build substations. We’re trying to hold the reigns down, but we sure don’t want any blackouts or brownouts.

“We’re sorry it happened, but when it got unbalanced, that unbalance will cause a substation breaker to be kicked out. I hope it doesn’t happen again, but I can’t promise.”

Work should begin soon on the Watt Road substation.

“We’ve got all the material in, except for the poles, to start the work. Now the substation has been under contract, and they’re working on it as we speak. We should be getting the poles in sometime this month, and hopefully they’ll start construction in September,” he said.

As far as tips to prevent future outages, Nelson said, “We’re asking people, offices, commercial and homes to turn off as many lights as they possibly can and stuff like that. At home, if you can run your dishwasher after eight o’clock, do your laundry after eight o’clock, it would be a lot better for us.”

 

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