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Power Outage

Around 3pm today, I was talking to Kat on Skype when suddenly my connection died and my lights turned off–the power went out.  I thought that perhaps a circuit in my room blew, but checked the rest of the house, and it was all dead too.  The emergency lights had even kicked on.

Not being able to get any work done without a computer, I decided to head downtown to run some errands I needed done.  Leaving my house, I noticed that the lights were off in all the buildings around me.  Their power was off too.

Even down on The Terrace, the first major road near my house, the traffic lights were black.  Cars had to haphazardly guess when to go.  It’s a pretty big intersection, and stop signs are a rarity here–never at intersections like that.  I didn’t see any accidents, but there wasn’t any order to it at all.

Source: Wikipedia

As I got down into the city, the same thing–all of the traffic lights were off.  All of the lights in shops were off.  Most shops were closing since they couldn’t do any business without lights.  It was as though the entire city were shutting down, and it was an interesting sight.

Business men with only 2-hours left in their day, decided to leave work early.  They were lining the streets, either smoking or heading to pubs to pass the time.  Those that did decide to try and head home got stuck in large amounts of traffic.  And still no street lights.  Even the buses were unreliable since they partially run on electrical lines above the road.  Some of them were stopped dead in the street.

Of course, I couldn’t get any of my errands done since the shops were closed.  Sushi shops started selling their remaining stock at huge discounts (5 rolls for $2).  And everyone seemed just a little confused.

I read in a news article that quite a few people were stuck in lifts in office buildings.  In fact, a friend of mine had her exam cancelled for that very reason; the professor was stuck, with the exam papers, in a lift.

The whole outage lasted for about an hour and a half and aftected 84,000 homes (and countless businesses) including most of the suburbs and all of downtown Wellington.  Apparently,

The fault occurred in the Wilton sub-station, where “vital maintenance” was being undertaken on one of the “buses” delivering a power feed to central Wellington, grid operator Transpower said.

Another bus at the substation, which was carrying load instead, failed, removing the back-up that is always supposed to be available while maintenance is occurring.  [source]

Oddly enough, an article published just three days ago spoke of upgrades to the network that would “allow us greater flexibility to re-direct power during a supply interruption…[and] minimise outages.”

It seems a little crazy that the power could be put out in an entire city for that long a time by simple maintenance.  Then again, power has been cut to huge sections of the US in the past.  This is on a much smaller scale than that.

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  1. April 23, 2010 at 1:53 am

    We always have power outages, too. And it happens a lot here, so we’re used to it. But I guess no matter how you’re used to it, still pretty inconvenient and sometimes very uncomfortable, especially with our climate. So sometimes what I do is head straight to the mall, where they have back-up generators… lights and airconditioners! But if we have it during the wee hours, then I just suffer through it with my trusty mp3 and pamaypay (hand-held fan)!

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