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Old 04-24-2013, 11:17 PM   #1
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What would cause these power outages?


I have never seen anything like this before and wonder what the cause might be.
Twice last week and earlier today the power went dead for 2 seconds and came back on. Usually it flickers a bit and then goes out, but this was like someone threw a switch off and back on.
The people across the street had the same experience, so it isn't my wiring. I have reported it to the utility, but I expect they will say it is normal.

It is my first time living in a rural area, so maybe the outages are different here, but the neighbor who has been here 15 years hasn't seen it before either.

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Old 04-24-2013, 11:34 PM   #2
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What would cause these power outages?


Was there high wind at the time? What kind of terrain are you located in? Adding your location to your profile might be helpful... The type of brief outage you are describing sounds like the operation of an automatic recloser. This is basically a high voltage circuit breaker that automatically resets itself. They are usually set to attempt to re-close the circuit three times in succession before locking out. These are used because the most common faults on overhead power lines are transient faults that correct themselves momentarily. Things like suicidal squirrels, birds nesting in the wrong places, or high winds blowing lines together. If the fault clears itself, then the recloser will turn the power back on in a few seconds and this avoids an unnecessary service call and extended outage. Note that this is an important reason to stay away from downed power lines, even if they appear dead: they will often become hot again automatically!

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Old 04-25-2013, 12:01 AM   #3
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What would cause these power outages?


I agree with mpoulton. This sounds like automatic reclosers; happens all the time in my Area when there are storms or wind, even when someone hits a pole occasionally. Because your neighbors are experiencing it too, this is not a problem with your house wiring.
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Old 04-25-2013, 12:25 AM   #4
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What would cause these power outages?


The automatique recloser will work X numbers of cycling so if it do go off for 2 seconds to clear the fault useally a tree branch or something is on the line that give a little time to clear it up but if still causing a fault again the recloser will stay off little longer on next cycle.

By time when it get to the third one it will lock out once and the POCO crew will have to reset it manually with hot stick to reclose it.

That is common way with recloser. the only time it will kick out once if you have " bolted fault " useally a transfomer shorted out then it will pop the fuse or kick the breaker out fast.( some case .,, NOT ! )

But if that only happend once it may be ok and repeat in couple weeks later then useally a tree branch or something got on the line even I have few critters hit the POCO line and they can do some damage and kick the recloser out.

Merci,
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Old 04-25-2013, 09:08 AM   #5
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What would cause these power outages?


Yes, both days were extremely windy. I am on a lakeshore and the wind is something to behold.

So there is probably a branch that hits the line during wind. Hopefully they will find it before it does real damage, but an article in the paper says they completely gutted their preventive maintenance budget, so probably not.

Is it possible that in an urban setting the switch changes the feed rather than just shutting it off, so that you see a flicker rather than a 2 second outage? Like I said, in 30 years of urban home ownership I have seen lots of flickers, but never an outage. Well sure, I've seen lots of outages, but never 2 seconds like these.

Glad I put that standby generator in...

Last edited by Toller; 04-25-2013 at 09:13 AM.
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Old 04-25-2013, 03:56 PM   #6
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What would cause these power outages?


Quote:
Is it possible that in an urban setting the switch changes the feed rather than just shutting it off,
No.

What do you mean by urban setting ? Were the power lines overhead or underground ? Many utilities do not use reclosers on underground circuits.
They don't have the same exposure to temporary faults.

(A recloser would be used on a circuit that has both overhead and underground sections.)

Last edited by Oso954; 04-25-2013 at 03:58 PM.
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Old 04-25-2013, 03:59 PM   #7
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What would cause these power outages?


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Originally Posted by Oso954 View Post
No.

What do you mean by urban setting ? Were the power lines overhead or underground ? Many utilities do not use reclosers on underground circuits.
They don't have the same exposure to temporary faults.
Powerlines here are overhead; anyplace else I have lived has been underground. Maybe that is the difference.
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Old 04-25-2013, 04:28 PM   #8
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What would cause these power outages?


I will pretty much guarantee you that they won't go looking for a branch that caused the problem. No one knows whether it was a contact from a branch that is still on the tree, or one that broke off and fell on the lines for a brief period of time.

What I can tell you is if they gutted the PM budget, that probably killed the tree trimming. So, in the future you are liable to see more incidents.

The good news is that the recloser handles most of these. They will try to close back in 3 times before going out and waiting for a troubleman. The 2-30 second outage is much preferable to one that lasts an hour (or more) just for a troubleman to be dispatched and travel to the location, just to reset the breaker.
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Old 04-25-2013, 05:18 PM   #9
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What would cause these power outages?


In my area trees are only trimmed when a problem arises (or so it seems). Across the state line here the other power company trims 15 feet on either side of the lines. I'm sure it varies by company. Either way, the recloser is doing its job.

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