Power outages not directly related to storms
MORGAN CITY, La. — The power outages in Morgan City and Amelia Wednesday morning were not directly related to the storms that swept through the area.
Morgan City Utilities Director Bill Cefalu said it was a combination of problems that took the city’s power down beginning at about 10:40 a.m.
Cefalu said the Bayou Ramos power substation was struck by lightning, causing a fault in one of the lines. At the time, the Cleco lines from the substation were feeding the city 16 megawatts of power through the city’s aged replacement transformer. Unit four was carrying 9 megawatts of load as well.
When the Cleco power was lost, Unit 4, a natural gas generator, tried to pick up the entire city load but a safety mechanism kicked in so that the generator wouldn’t burn itself up, Cefalu said. Normally, to return power to the city without the Cleco feed, Units 3 and 4 need to run, cranked back up by the diesel generators at another location in the city, he added.
However, Cefalu said, when the diesel generators started running around 11:15 a.m., the city got a call informing them that the natural gas powering Unit 3 and Unit 4 would be shut down.
Louisiana Interstate Gas, the provider, verified a leak in their line that runs to the city under the Intracoastal Waterway. While the city wasn’t notified about the leak until 11:15 a.m., the Louisiana State Police said state police hazmat units were notified about the problem at 9:37 a.m. The problem was called in by the U.S. Coast Guard, according to Office of Emergency Preparedness Director Duval Arthur.
Cefalu said he was told that something crushed the line and a 4-inch bubble had formed. This was confirmed by divers. The damage is too severe to clamp, he added. The company will have to cut out a section to repair it.
Meanwhile, Texas Gas, which provides natural gas service to residences in the city, was contacted to provide the needed gas, Cefalu said.