Last night, on June 8, at 7:30 p.m. the power supplier dropped transmission to 16 of WCEC’s substations that power over 18,000 of WCEC’s members. AEP/SWEPCO’s high voltage transmission lines supply power from the generation plant many miles away, to WCEC’s substations. Once delivered to our substation, the power is stepped down and sent to WCEC members. Without power being supplied by AEP/SWEPCO to WCEC’s substations, none can be delivered to members.
Of note, this transmission drop also affected thousands of AEP/SWEPCO’s customers.
AEP/SWEPCO has indicated that several things happened to cause this. They had several different sections of their system down for routine maintenance. To provide continuous transmission of electricity, they had re-routed power from other directions to feed the areas they were performing maintenance on. Unfortunately, a large transformer failed on one of their back-fed sections. That event caused a destabilizing effect and caused the widespread outage we experienced last night
Once the problem was identified, working with AEP/SWEPCO, WCEC was able to get transmission feed to the Quitman substation and then back feed to as many members as possible to restore a large portion at 9:17 p.m. Then, AEP/SWEPCO worked on restoring transmission to the rest of the grid. Those last members were restored at 1:40 a.m.
This year has been a challenging one with an extremely active and violent storm season, which has caused many outages on WCEC’s distribution system. During those, most of you understood the level of damage and the amount of construction work it took to restore power in those cases. Beyond storms, there are many things that can contribute to outages, starting at the generation plant, the transmission lines, and then at the distribution level where we serve you. This one was one of those “blue sky” outages, so to speak. We wanted to explain the reason for it, and for the length of time.
We never want our members to be without power. We are committed to inspecting and maintaining our infrastructure, including right-of-way maintenance. And when outages happen, we work hard to get power restored as quickly and safely as possible. This situation was not a storm, but a perfect storm of events. And it came on the heels of a particularly bad storm season.
After such an event, it takes time to get the facts. But now that we have them, we felt our members deserved to know what happened also. You are always our priority. We know how important uninterrupted service is to each of you. It is always our goal to deliver that, and during an outage event, to restore power quickly.
Thank you for letting us explain, and for your membership.