Transmission Line Failure Causes Damaging Power Fluctuations in Indiana

June 21, 2019

By Erik Linask - Group Editorial Director

A widespread power outage impacted Lawrenceburg Municipal Utilities customers in Dearborn County, Indiana Wednesday evening.  According to the company, it could have done nothing to prevent the outage, which was caused by an electrical failure on Duke Energy’s (News - Alert) 138kV transmission line feeding the two towns.  The problem was not in LMU’s distribution system.

The problem began when the transmission line lost one of the phases of its three-phase system, which caused blown or tripped breakers, flickering lights, fluctuating voltage, smoke smell, and other issues.  It also caused traffic lights on Route 50 from Greendale to Aurora to malfunction, along with at least one line bursting into flame.  Once the cause of the outage was determined, LMU shut down its distribution system to ensure safety of it system and customer equipment.  When Duke Energy was able to reroute the feed, LMU was able to re-energize its substations and restore power to its customers.

“Because of the single phasing issues and out of an abundance of concern for our own utility system as well as our customer-owned equipment, the decision was made to open our substation breakers and shut down our distribution system,” the company said.

Due to the damage to its lines, Duke Energy has scheduled a 12-hour planned outage to make repairs, from 6:00pm, Sunday, June 23 to 6:00am, Monday, June 24.

This is a prime example of why businesses have to be aware of the risks of power outages.  The voltage fluctuations that occurred can permanently damage technology that keeps businesses operational.  From switches to servers to firewalls – any business systems, in fact – include sensitive circuits that are designed for specific voltage.  When the loads fluctuate and exceed limits the circuits can handle, they fail, taking systems offline and requiring potentially costly and time-consuming repairs.

The best way to avoid electrical damage is to install power protection systems.  They are designed to regulate line voltage before power is distributed to business equipment, ensuring that whatever happens externally doesn’t cause any damage internally.  In addition, UPS capabilities can keep systems online long enough for IT teams to implement manual shutdown procedures to avoid data loss or corruption – or even keep them functioning for longer periods with longer runtime systems.  Power protection systems can be designed to fit any size business and protect whatever critical systems a business has.

Edited by Erik Linask