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Energy, STEM

Blown Fuses and Bleary Eyes Today

SRP Overhead Primary Tangent Electrical Pole

SRP Overhead Primary Tangent Electrical Pole

So much for the best laid plans. After a fairly productive day of work at home yesterday, I took a break to watch about two hours of television during the evening before finding my second wind. I needed to complete some reading for several projects last night.

Jimmy Fallon was introducing his first guest on the Tonight Show when I heard a boom, crack and sizzle. The lights flickered and then, darkness. Lights out! The hum of the air conditioner, television, ceiling fans, and anything else that creates a sound when electrical juice is flowing went silent.

I hear the neighbors talking. This tells me that our house isn’t the only one that has no lights. Walking around the exterior of the property, my roommate spots a fire in the alley behind the property. I call 911 to report the fire, and as I am doing that, there is another loud crack, with sparks, arcing electricity and smoke from the overhead primary tangent pole with a three-phase underground pole riser in the same area. I am transferred to the fire department by the 911 operator, I report the cause of the fire, and am told a vehicle is being dispatched to the area.

As I am waiting, and continue looking around the property, I notice the entire block has no lights. I didn’t notice a transformer on the pole, so now I’m guessing the power interruption is one or more blown fuses that are attached to the tangent pole.

Yesterday was not an extremely hot day – but hot enough at 103 degrees for the high. We’ve certainly had hotter temperatures in Phoenix that did not result in a power outage – just higher electric bills. However, the peak load may not have been reached when temps were the hottest during the day, but during the evening hours when all my neighbors are home, and like me, are doing all kinds of things like laundry, cranking up the a.c. because they are home and want cooler inside temps, cooking, watching television, cleaning, working on their computer and other wireless devices, chatting folks up on their cordless phones, etc.

The good news is that it didn’t take very long for the fire department to arrive and put out the small blaze in the alley. As they were backing out of the alley, the folks from Salt River Project (SRP), our local utility, were pulling to replace the fuses and any other damaged equipment. It took about an hour before the lights were back on and things were humming along as usual.

Needless to say, I still had reading to do which delayed my bedtime for the evening….and now my bleary eyes are paying for it this a.m.


About Vi Brown

Vi is principal and CEO of Prophecy Consulting Group, LLC, an Arizona firm that provides business and engineering services to private and public clients. Prior to establishing her consulting practice in 2001, Vi worked with Motorola, Maricopa County Government, Pacific Gas & Electric, CH2M Hill, and Procter & Gamble. As an adjunct faculty member, Vi teaches undergraduate calculus classes and graduate level environmental courses. She is also a professional speaker.


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