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.
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.”
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
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.