The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

May 22, 2013

FirstEnergy seeks reason for massive Ashtabula County power outage

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

— Humid weather may have played a role in a malfunction that shut down electrical service to a large chunk of Ashtabula County late Tuesday morning, officials said.

The problem originated at the Illuminating Company’s substation on Sanborn Road in Saybrook Township, Jennifer Young, FirstEnergy spokeswoman, said Tuesday. A faulty relay at the facility caused the outage, she said.

“We will do an investigation to see what caused the relay to have challenges,” Young said.

The day’s hot, humid weather may have been a factor, she said.

The outage that affected thousands of customers began shortly after 10:30 a.m. and was restored less than 45 minutes later. An exact number of affected customers was not immediately available, Young said. However, moments after power was restored FirstEnergy’s website indicated more than 12,000 customers in Ashtabula County were impacted by the outage. That’s about 23 percent of the county’s customers, according   to  the   website.

By mid-afternoon, only five outages were reported in the county.

Hardest hit was the city of Ashtabula, where more than 5,000 customers lost power, FirstEnergy reported. Traffic inched through intersections suddenly unguarded by traffic signals. In the downtown district, businesses turned away customers with “closed due to emergency” signs in doors, and front porches were filled with people suddenly denied air conditioning on a sticky morning.

Outages were reported at numerous locations around the county. Besides Ashtabula, significant service interruptions were reported Tuesday morning in Saybrook, Plymouth, King-sville and Lenox townships, along with North Kingsville and Jefferson. Outages were also reported in townships in the southern part of the county. How many of the outages were caused by the Sanford Road substation problem was not known.

The arrival of hot weather ushers in the thunderstorm season and increased chances of severe storms that can cause outages. People can report outages to FirstEnergy in a number of ways, according to the utility’s website:

• Call 888-LIGHTSS (888-544-4877)

• Download FirstEnergy’s free smartphone app or visit its mobile website from your phone

• Report an outage via text message; get started by texting REG to 544487.

• People with a communication disability can contact FirstEnergy through the appropriate text telephone (TTY/TDD) relay service.

• More information about the app, text messaging and related services can be found on our communication tools page.