Florida Power Blackout Remains a Puzzle

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CBNNews.com - Power executives were still mystified Wednesday about how a glitch at a substation triggered a blackout that cut power to millions across south Florida.

The outages Tuesday spanned 300 miles of the peninsula but appeared to be concentrated in the southeast portion of the state.

Communities along the southwest coast, in the Florida Keys and as far north as Daytona Beach reported interruptions.

Click play to watch the CBN News report and Pat Robertson's comments on the continuing problems with our infrastructure.

While the outages cut power to 2 million to 3 million people at its peak, power was quickly restored to most parts of the state and authorities said no injuries were reported.

Only about 20,000 people were without power during the evening commute home.

The president of Florida Power & Light was puzzled by how the blackout happened, saying an equipment malfunction at an electrical substation should not have caused the outages.

None of the events should "have caused the kind of widespread outage that we saw," FPL President Armando Olivera said. "That's the part that we don't have an answer for yet."

At around 1 p.m. an equipment malfunction occurred at a facility that transmits power in Miami, setting off a series of events that caused power to go off in areas around the state.

The malfunction led to a fire at the facility, which in turn caused larger problems - disabling two power distribution lines between Miami and Daytona Beach, according to the power company.

Systems monitoring the power grid saw took action, automatically shutting down two nuclear plants at the Turkey Point facility south of Miami. A fossil fuel plant also went off-line.

In total, the state temporarily lost the ability to generate a total of 2,500 megawatts of power. That's about 5 percent of the total generating power Florida uses on a peak day according to Linda Campbell of the Florida Reliability Coordinating Council in Tampa, which helps oversee the state's electricity supply.

Once that amount of megawatts was not available to the grid, FPL spokesman Randy Clerihue says the system had to shut off power until it could compensate for the losses.

It was unclear how much the shutdown of the facilities at Turkey Point contributed to the loss of power.

However, Florida Power & Light's Web site says that the two nuclear power plants generate about 1,400 megawatts of power, or more than half of the capacity temporarily lost on Tuesday.

Authorities said there were no safety concerns at the nuclear plant and the outages were not related to terrorism.

The initial outages affected about a fifth of Florida's population.

Source: The Associated Press

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