Line fluctuations are to blame in recent outages

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By Special to the Monitor

Officials at the Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities announced that the third of three momentary blackouts occurred across Los Alamos County was due to fluctuations on the RL 115kV transmission line which brings power to the county.

Electric Distribution Project Engineer Steve Marez said that all fluctuations and momentary outages influence the performance of the town site electric distribution system. Marez said older direct-bury conductors (circuit 16) on North Mesa failed on Sunday and Thursday, simultaneous with two of the transmission fluctuations from the RL line.

“Los Alamos National Lab contractor KSL has been performing maintenance on the 115 kV Norton transmission line, leaving the RL line as our single power supply transmission line. The root cause of the RL line’s fluctuations (9:45 a.m. Friday, 12:30 p.m. Thursday, and at 4:07 p.m. Aug. 3) is still being investigated by KSL,” said Deputy Utilities Manager Steve Cummins.

“Fluctuations on the main power supply line stressed the White Rock and town site aging distribution system, especially in North Mesa. Without both lines running, we lose the alternative transmission pathway that enables power interruptions to be mitigated.”

A press release from LANL said the Aug. 3 power outage was caused by a lightning strike.

KSL brought the Norton transmission line down for scheduled maintenance on July 28 and will continue maintenance work to keep the line in optimal condition. During maintenance, the RL line is the county’s sole power supply transmission line.

Friday, a spokesman for LANL said that utilities and infrastructure has temporarily suspended repair work on one of the main electrical transmission lines, due to recent temporary interruptions in electrical service. Utilities and infrastructure is conducting maintenance on the electrical transmission line, which started a few weeks ago.

The interruptions this week have caused a reassessment of the current system configuration until the cause of the interruptions can be resolved with Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM).

Over the next few days, the laboratory and PNM will determine the exact cause of the problem prior to resuming the maintenance activities.