A leak in a hydraulic system caused a safety circuit to shut down the city steam turbine generator around 1 a.m. Tuesday morning and had some parts of the city without power for up to four hours.
City electric department employees are working to discover the problem that plunged the city of Pratt into darkness early Tuesday morning.
Around 1 a.m. an hydraulic system, that prevents the 14 megawatt steam turbine generator from running to fast, sprung a leak and the emergency trip system automatically shut the turbine down, said Kelly Hemphill, Pratt City electric utility director.
The system prevents severe damage to the generator if anything goes wrong and the generator starts running too fast. The system worked as it should and prevented any damage to the turbine.
The power failure plunged the entire city into darkness. City electric operators searched for the cause of the blackout but the electrical system is complex and locating the problem would take time.
“These systems are pretty complicated. It took a while to find it,” Hemphill said.
Hemphill said because it would take a while to find the problem, they decided to fire up the dual fuel generators and get the power back on in Pratt.
As they were bringing up the power in section by section, some places came on but then an overload tripped a safety switch and the power went out again for some people.
It took about four hours to get the entire city back up and running again.
In the meantime, the city electric crews had to wait until the hydraulic system cooled down so they could take it apart and discover what caused the leak in the first place.
The hydraulic system is very hot and it took quite a while for it to cool down so crews could safely work on it.
Although it effects of the problem are a visible leak, its going to take some time to take the unit apart to discover the problem.
Hemphill said it is possible the crew might get the problem fixed by as early as tonight but more than likely it will be take a couple of days to find and fix the problem.
Until the problem is fixed, the city will continue to provide electricity with the two dual fuel generators, Hemphill said.
At the time of the power failure, the city was producing its own electricity through the steam turbine system.
Sunflower Electric, the company that supplies power to the city, needed to work on a substation so the city had disconnected from Sunflower at 7 a.m. Monday morning. This had nothing to do with the power failure Tuesday morning, Hemphill said.
The Sunflower Electric disconnect is scheduled to run from March 31 to April 15. However, some additional work may be needed on the substation and the disconnect may run until April 18, Hemphill said.
The power failure Tuesday morning had nothing to do with a two to three minute power failure Sunday that was probably caused by an animal crossing wires.