Chain reaction causes power to go out island-wide

A recent series of power outages has prompted Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative officials to push up to this week an earlier-planned system stability study, a KIUC official said.

An island-wide blackout Friday lasted from 10:25 p.m., with total island power not restored until 12:07 a.m. Saturday, though some KIUC members in other parts of the island were without power for only a few minutes, said Anne Barnes, KIUC spokeswoman.

The power outage resulted from a transmission line flashover on the Westside caused by contamination on insulators. A light mist that began to fall on Friday compounded contamination issues, she said.

A flash-over happens when something, be it dust or another source of contamination, causes an insulator to lose its integrity, interrupting the flow of electricity.

This fault caused generators at Port Allen and Kapaia Power Stations to drop off-line, she explained.

Recent outages triggered the necessity of a stability study, which will begin later this week because of the latest outage, she said. The study had been scheduled to begin next week.

The study, which will be conducted using sophisticated software that mimics the KIUC system and enables technicians to run the simulated system through a series of scenarios, is designed “to determine where we’re lacking stability,” and to suggest changes to enhance system stability, explained Barnes.

The study is designed to isolate where the instability is, she added.

The RFP (request for proposals) mandates the work be completed in 90 days.

The cost of the study should be under $40,000 if the contracted technicians can conduct the study using existing data. If units need to be tested, or more data is required, the cost could double, said Barnes.

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