City of Green Cove Springs Responds to a Weekend of Outages from July 10 to July 13, 2020

July 20, 2020 – The City of Green Cove Springs experienced a series of power outages from Friday, July 10, to Monday, July 13, 2020, affecting a large percentage of customers.

While the City strives to provide timely information and answers when outages occur, we wanted to present a more detailed account of each outage to customers for them to better understand what caused these outages and how City Electric and Public Works crews responded to each.

Below is an account of each outage in the order that they happened:

On Friday, July 10, at 8:30 p.m. the City received reports of two outages after an evening thunderstorm. The first outage was due to a lightning strike hitting a transformer in Magnolia Point, affecting an estimated 200 homes in the subdivision. The lightning strike tripped a circuit that provided power to the affected homes. Electric crews found the damaged transformer, disconnected it, and replaced it. It took crews two hours to identify and disconnect the damaged transformer. This restored power to everyone except homes on Blackstone Court. The transformer was replaced two hour later, restoring power to the remaining homes.

            The second outage was located on CR 209 and caused by overhanging trees around a utility pole, affecting an estimated 10 homes. The pole was cleared of overhanging tree canopy and the transformer was reset. It took crews a total of four and a half hours to fix both outages and restore power to all affected homes.

            On Saturday, July 11, at 3:45 p.m. an outage caused by a fallen power line across US 17 at Harbor Road due to a failed switch at a utility pole affected an estimated 1,400 customers located north of Harbor Road, including Magnolia Point, and some businesses along US 17. Electric crews replaced the failed switch and reattached the power line to the new switch and utility pole, restoring power to affected homes and businesses by 6 p.m. The failed switch that caused the outage is estimated to be 20 years old and failed either due to the thunderstorm that previous night or age.

            On Sunday, July 12, at 11 p.m. crews responded to an outage caused by a tree falling on a power line on S Oakridge Avenue, affecting Pinewood Apartment Complex and 20 homes. Public Works crew assisted in removing the fallen tree, while the electric crew replaced the fallen wire. Power was restored to affected homes by 3:30 a.m.

            On Monday, July 13, at 10:30 a.m. the City received reports of an outage that affected 1,500 customers north of Harbor Road, some businesses on US 17, and businesses in Reynolds Park. The outage was caused by a failed switch that was in service for less than three months on a utility pole along CR 15A. The outage cut power to one of two main circuits that feed electricity into Green Cove Springs city limits. With parts to repair the circuit not readily available, crews moved all affected customers to the second main circuit into city limits and restored power by noon.

            However, the City experienced power bumps affecting all customers throughout Monday afternoon due to all customers using the same main power circuit for electricity, exceeding capacity on the circuit. Parts needed to repair the second main power circuit were found in South Florida and sent to Green Cove Springs that afternoon. Electric Department received the parts by 7 p.m. Crews finished repairs and returned power to normal operations by 8:30 p.m.

Under the $10.7 Million Loan for Electric Improvements passed by Green Cove Springs City Council in April 2018, the City is currently working on two projects that will improve electric capacity to residents and businesses of Green Cove Springs and not only minimize outages, but shorten the duration of future power outages.

            The first is upgrades to Chapman substation, which is where the City receives electricity from the Florida Power and Light electrical grid and distributes it through the City of Green Cove Springs electrical system to businesses and residents. Upgrades include adding a third transformer and a third main circuit into the city and installing a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system at the substation and throughout the city’s electric system. SCADA will allow the City Electric Department to monitor the system in real time and help expedite restoration during outages by remotely resetting power to parts of the city’s electrical system. The purchase of the third transformer has been out to bid and the selected contractor will be presented in front of City Council on July 21, 2020. Once approved by City Council, it will take six months to build the transformer and send it to the City. During that time the contracted engineer will design the remaining substation improvements and SCADA. The third circuit has been designed and is out for bid with an estimated completion date of December 2020. All upgrades are expected to be complete by Spring 2021. These upgrades will help reduce the occurrence of power bumps like the ones experienced on Monday and increase the capacity of the electrical system to better support Green Cove Springs electrical customers.

            The second project is replacing and upgrading the underground electric system in Magnolia Point This new system will replace electric wires and transformers that are over 40 years old and well past their expected service life. The new system is currently in design. Equipment for the new system has been ordered and will take three to four months to build and ship to Green Cove Springs. Once installed, the new system is designed to increase reliability, capacity, and redundancy of electricity use in Magnolia Point, as well as lessen the frequency and duration of future power outages in the subdivision and surrounding homes. Construction is estimated to start by December 2020 and estimated to be finished by December 2021.

These projects are just two of a larger list of electrical system projects expected to be completed by 2021 under the $10.7 Million Loan for Electric System Improvements. Once finished, these projects will upgrade the electrical system to support the current population of Green Cove Springs as well as serve new residents and businesses as the city grows.

For a more in-depth update on the projects under the Electric System Improvements Loan, go to www.greencovesprings.com. The City will post a report on the current status of projects under the loan on the city website by July 23, 2020.

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