The city began keeping records of outages in March 2009. From March 2009 to late December 2009, there were a total of 350 outages affecting 42,134 people. The Griffin Daily News also kept records of outages affecting its operations. There were 12 power interruptions at its offices in a seven-month period from April until December.
Griffin Director of the Electric Bill Bosch said there is a difference between “blinks” and outages.
He said Griffin Power uses breakers and devices called “reclosers” to temporarily shut down power lines if something comes in contact with them. The lines will shut down for a short period of about five to 10 seconds to allow whatever is interfering with the lines to come off. A short outage of less than a minute is a recloser operating, something that is called a blink. The majority of outages recorded at The Griffin Daily News office were blinks, he said.
“The devices will do that three times,” he said.
After the third time, the device will “lock out” and stay off. Crews will then go out and investigate the problem.
Bosch said the city has taken steps to deal with the problem of outages. In the last three years, Griffin Power has done extensive work on its lines and facilities.
“For example, (in 2009), we’ve closed out 15 miles of overhead lines,” he said. “We’ve closed out over 450 poles (in 2009).”
In the last two years, the city has improved its tree-trimming efforts as well, reducing problems from trees.
In the future, the city plans to install more “mid-circuit breakers” that will do the same thing as the section reclosers but will only affect half the circuit when a blink happens. This will mean fewer people will lose power. He said this effort will take about five years.
“We will also be installing automatic switches that, if an outage occurs in one portion of a circuit ... one switch will automatically open and another will automatically close, picking up a portion of the outage area,” he said.
The city also has an automatic outage-tracking system. The city reviews it monthly.
“This helps us prioritize which areas of the system we need to work on,” he said.
The city is also doing a pole-to-pole inspection of the entire system, a process that will take four to five years. In addition to that, the city will purchase an outage-management system that will automatically map outage calls and dispatch crews faster. At present, these tasks are done by hand.