Ronald W. Nesbitt

Supervisor's Corner


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Apr 13

Recent Power Outages in Webster

Posted on April 13, 2015 at 9:48 AM by PattiAnn Schultz

I have received MANY phone calls and emails regarding power outages in our area, and this was certainly the case after the power outage on March 14th.  I once again contacted RG&E and asked them the questions that were being asked of me which were (1) What is going on with the electric system in Webster? In particular, what happened on March 14th? (2) What is RG&E doing to reduce the number and length of outages?  I just received the answers and I would like to share RG&E’s information with you.

RG&E prides itself on providing safe, reliable service and they take that obligation very seriously. The unrelenting deep freeze took a toll on people, pets, houses, vehicles and, unfortunately, the electric and natural gas distribution systems. Metal cables contract and snap, insulators crack, and frost heaves the gas lines out of alignment. The system is resilient, but not tough enough to survive completely unscathed through one of the worst winters in history.

Unfortunately for many Webster residents, that vulnerability became very clear the evening of March 14th when the system in Webster suffered a ‘cascading failure’ that initially interrupted power to nearly 4,000 customers. The series of events started when a 34,000 volt insulator, which had cracked from the cold, failed. That failure took out two circuits, then a switch, then a breaker and, eventually, an entire substation. RG&E crews were dispatched immediately and worked for approximately two hours to determine the problem, identify the multiple causes of this incident, and make the repairs needed to restore power. For crew safety during the repairs, RG&E had to de-energize another circuit that, unfortunately, caused an additional 1,000 Webster customers to lose electricity service.

As a result of this outage and other incidents in Webster, RG&E has initiated the following steps to enhance system reliability in the area:

  • RG&E is in the process of installing remote fault current indicators on many of the circuits in the area. These simple, yet effective wire-mounted tools help them to rapidly identify the general location of any faults that do occur so they can repair them quickly.
  • They are in the process of inspecting all pole-mounted equipment to identify and correct any potential maintenance issues in the area.
  • They have accelerated the infrared aerial inspections of all of the 115,000 and 34,500 high-voltage lines in Webster and they have helicopters that have started flying in the area the week of March 30th.
  • RG&E’s arborists will inspect the rights-of-way along both of the circuits affected by the March 14th incident. Although tree contact was not the cause of this outage, they want to be proactive by identifying and addressing any potential tree issues before they become an issue in the future.

As I receive more updates and information, I will pass it on.  In the meantime, as always, if you have any questions about your town government, please feel free to contact me during regular business hours at (585) 872-7068; or email me anytime at supervisor@ci.webster.ny.us  

Ronald W. Nesbitt

Supervisor