Chesterton Tribune



NIPSCO corrects its original info on Monday outages

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The Northern Indiana Public Service Company has provided more information on the one-two outage punch which left 3,200 Dunelanders--most of them in Porter--without power in the early-morning hours on Monday, the coldest day of the year.

NIPSCO initially told the Chesterton Tribune on Monday that the outages lasted approximately two hours, from roughly 6 to 8 a.m. That information was inaccurate, however. Spokesman Nick Meyer told the Tribune today that the company’s internal notification system generated an e-mail at 6 a.m. regarding the outages but that the e-mail did not specifically indicate that the outages had actually occurred around 2 a.m.

That means the outages lasted around six hours, Meyer said, not two.

The first occurred around 1:36 a.m. when the circuit feeding the substation which serves Dune Acres--located on Old Porter Road east of Ind. 149--“opened.” It’s unclear why it opened, Meyer indicated that given the recent snowfall and frigid temperatures the failure was probably weather-related, but in any case 1,728 customers at that point lost power.

Then, about 30 minutes later, at 2:17 a.m., a transmission line in the area of Broadway and 10th Street in Chesterton “came down” on a distribution line. Again, the exact cause of that incident is unclear--and again, Meyer suspects it was weather-related--but an additional 1,497 customers were left in the dark.

There was an earlier incident as well--one around midnight, when a vehicle struck a utility pole in the area of U.S. Highway 12 and Oakhill Road and a cross arm was broken--but it’s unlikely that more than a few, if any, customers were affected in that case, Meyer said.

Crews were on both scenes fairly quickly, Meyer noted. In anticipation of Sunday’s snow event and predicted low temperatures, linemen at the Valparaiso operations office had been put on standby on Saturday and were still on standby early Monday morning. But the repairs nevertheless took about six hours.

“Our employees are very dedicated and focused on getting customers back up as soon as possible, especially in the frigid conditions on Monday,” Meyer said. “And we apologize for any inconvenience to folks.”

Power Surges

Meyers discussed one further issue about which the Tribune has received anecdotal reports: a power surge or backfeed early Monday morning which, in some residences or businesses, may have damaged electronic gear and started small fires in surge protectors.

Meyer said that surges of type described to the Tribune sometimes occur when--as happened in the incident on Broadway and 10th Street--transmission and distribution lines touch. “In a case where lines come in contact, it may cause a fluctuation in voltage,” he said.

That kind of occurrence, though, is typically “tied to Mother Nature”--more specifically, to the weather--and “that’s not something the utility provides compensation for.”

Meyer advised any customers who may have experienced surge-related damage to contact their homeowners insurance provider. “It’s always good to have surge protection in place,” he added.


Posted 12/21/2106




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