by Justin Hill
Around 8,000 City of Kinston electric customers spent nearly two hours in the dark Wednesday night after a malfunction occurred at the Rouse Road substation.
Kinston Director of Public Services Rhonda Barwick said the outage occurred at 9:04 p.m., when an arrester at the substation went out; it lasted until 10:40. She described an arrester as a surge protector for the system.
“That’s probably not a technical definition,” she said, “but that helps me understand how it works.”
She said the faulty equipment couldn’t have been spotted by routine inspections.
While the power outage caused some inconveniences for residence, motorists also had to navigate the streets without some traffic signals operating.
Kinston Department of Public Safety Chief Bill Johnson said there were no vehicle incidents caused by the outage but cautioned drivers to be defensive on the roadways if traffic lights are not operating.
“I think people need to operate as if every intersection is a four-way stop,” he said.
Mayor B.J. Murphy posted Twitter updates throughout the outage and thanked city customers for their patience while power was being restored. He told The Free Press Thursday he had fielded several calls and texts from upset customers.
“I think people were frustrated, which is understandable,” he said. “Some were understanding, but it’s important to remember things like this aren’t planned.”
He added the city council had recently made the electricity infrastructure its No. 2 budget priority.
Since October, the city has experienced three power outages.
That month, a lightning storm stung Kinston for a short but large-scale power outage that left nearly half the city without electricity, including three schools in the area. Roughly 5,300 of the 12,000 customers plugged into the Kinston Public Services Department were in the dark for 45 minutes while utility crews worked to repair one of the city’s main transmission lines fried by one.
In January, a faulty jumper on a distribution line near the city’s Hull Road substation that failed around 6 a.m., however, caused power stoppages for close to 8,000 customers in the residential areas surrounding Rouse and Carey Roads to the West Vernon Avenue business district.
Barwick said the three incidents were unrelated.
“It’s hard to know when it’s going to fail,” she said.
Justin Hill can be reached at 252-559-1078 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mjhill.
The N.C. Department of Transportation recommends you follow these right of way rules when traffic signals are out:
n The first vehicle to the intersection has the right of way
n When two or more vehicles reach an intersection at the same time, the vehicle to the right has the right of way
n The vehicle with the right of way may move straight ahead or, if legal, may turn right or left after signaling
n When two facing vehicles approach an intersection at the same time, both drivers can move straight ahead or turn right; if one driver is going straight while the other wants to turn left, the driver who wants to turn left must wait; the driver who is traveling straight ahead has the right of way
n Even with the right of way, remember to use the appropriate turn signals and be careful to avoid hitting other vehicles and pedestrians.