I wanted to update our residents on the recent power outage situation in Lakewood and let you know we are working with the electric company to try to resolve the issues we are having. I met with Trent Smith, President of The Illuminating Company, on July 27 to discuss the situation. The Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (CEI) is a First Energy subsidiary and delivers the electical power to the entire city of Lakewood. We had a frank discussion about the condition of our power supply and the outages Lakewood experienced last week. Mr. Smith was very interested in understanding what our specific experiences were. I was able to relay this experience thanks to the many many calls and messages received from our affected citizens. It was very helpful to know the frequency and duration of the outages which were reported in many of the messages. Mr. Smith reported that CEI used thermoscan technology to identify five critical circuits that need serious attention. An additional 18 circuits are being reviewed. Additionally a review of the substations, including Lauderdale, is being conducted.
The root cause of the electrical outages was a July 19 storm which produced 5 inches of rain in two hours. This rain caused flooding in the electrical substation in Brooklyn. Pumps are present to deal with this a situation like this, but the pump size and discharge pipe size were unable to deal with the volume of water. CEI is redesigning this pump system, as well as working with Brooklyn, to identify a better place to discharge the water. As a result of the serious damage to the Brooklyn substation, all of this electricty had to be redirected to other circuits. In the course of doing so, CEI overloaded another smaller substation which caused an outage to 43,000 Lakewood customers for an average of 93 minutes.
Things were complicated further when a Fault malfunctioned and overloaded some equipment and power lines at the Lauderdale substation on the corner of Lauderdale and Madison. This caused additional outages and attempts to redirect these circuits. At this point, the redirected circuits were placed under increased stress as a result of the multiple days of extremely hot days and nights. The average temperatures during the days were in the mid 90 degrees and night time temperatures remained warm as well preventing the transformers from adequately cooling off. A futher complication is the normal gradual increased demand over many years that today’s average households place on the electrical grid. In addition, due to the extremly high temperatures all over the country, the electrical demand in the United States was at record setting levels. Putting all of these factors together: weather/moisture, temperature, high demand caused an extreme situation which resulted in exteme power outages.
Our discussions with CEI aren’t over. We will continue to work with them to try to improve service in the City of Lakewood. Mr. Smith and I agreed to meet in the middle of August. At this meeting, representatives from CEI including Mr. Smith and his engineering staff along with our Police Chief, Fire Chief and Public Works Director will meet to provide CEI with a better understanding of what's going on in Lakewood, and to extend our support and knowledge to help CEI do its work.