a reply to: AnkhMorpork
To set this up, one city will be mentioned, Columbia, SC.
I had just got home on a Friday night from tech school in the fall of '73. 3 more months and I would get an associates in Electronics Engineering. My
mother and three younger sisters had left for the local high school football game where the oldest of my three younger sisters was a cheerleader. I
had just finished my supper that had been left out for me and settled down to watch the nightly news at 6:30. Whoomp, the power went out.
Knowing a little bit about the local power grid, I went outside to see if the fuse on the pole had blown. When I got to the road I saw some of my
neighbors had come out, too. No one on the block had power. My best friends father who was the district manager of the main power company in the area
came flying up, stopped and said get in, we have problems. My best friend had been in the Marine Corps about two years then and I was the surrogate
son to his father and often rode with him on trouble calls.
What happened, I asked, another 18 wheeler accident? Nope, he said, we have power to the sub-station 1 city but none past that. SS1C was 20 miles away
and received its 120KV directly from the steam generating plant. We got to SS1C in no time and assessed what was going on. Power to it and power was
leaving and getting to sub-station 2, 10 miles back up the circuit. A technician had just arrived at SS2C and said that it was receiving 120KV but no
44KV. The way the circuits were set up was that 120KV ran to the end of the line to a fourth sub-station and then returned from a transformer back
down the line on a separate circuit as 44KV. The end of the line sub-station will be known as SS4C, 8 miles from SS3C where I lived.
The radio dispatcher came on the radio stating he had reset all the automatic reclosures (circuit breakers) and was ready to "shoot" the line again
meaning that an approximately .5 second 120KV pulse would be initiated to see if the line had cleared. All the technicians at each sub had radioed in
they were clear and the line was "shot". The dispatcher then said that he had never seen the lines act this way before and couldn't identify the
problem. "B" the manager and I decide to ride the line and look for the usual tree on the line of one of the three phases.
We got to sub 2 and found the tech there, very perplexed, and he said that the power pulse came but didn't make it to sub 3, my home town. We went to
several dirt roads and looked as far as we could see down the line, but didn't see anything as the dispatcher "shot" the line several more times. By
this time they had the helicopter in Columbia warming up.
He and I then proceeded on to our hometown SS3 and on a whim, I suggested driving down a dirt road near town where the line crossed and check it from
there since it was on a hill. We turned down the road which crossed a pond dam before coming to a sharp curve and then the power line.
As we exited the curve and entered the power line right of way, a torrent of sparks went every where under and above the 120KV power line as a ghostly
looking greyish arm pulled up off of the power line and into a very low hanging cloud. Almost immediately, the dispatcher announced "Line clear".
We looked at each other and he said "I won't say anything if you won't".
edit on 6/23/2019 by NightFlight because: further thoughts...