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Equipment failure at Hypoluxo substation to blame for Lake Worth power outage

Posted at 8:29 PM, Jun 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-22 04:47:01-04

A piece of equipment failed and sparked a fire late Wednesday night at the Hypoluxo substation causing a widespread power outage in the aging system, according to Lake Worth City Manager Michael Bornstein.

"We just want them to understand we are committed and involved and engaged in the process of improving that, investing in the system and taking care of the backlog of problems that’s on our desk," Bornstein said.

The same situation caused an outage back in April although the actual piece of equipment in place Wednesday night was a replacement piece because the transformer that malfunctioned in April was sent to Georgia Tech for forensic testing. The same will be done with the replacement piece that failed this week.

"It could be just really bad luck and that’s unfortunate," Bornstein said. "We don’t have any data to point to any cause yet."

People in Lake Worth were frustrated with the high temperatures in their homes as they tried to sleep Wednesday night without power.

“I woke up at 1:30 a.m. and I was sweating," Ginny Meredith said.

“I almost went to the gym at 4 a.m. in the morning just to cool off," Kevin Coile said.

Another sweaty night without power continues to draw attention to the need for upgrades to the aging utility system.

“There’s no more waiting for these kinds of things," Bornstein said. "We’re committed. The city is committed to fixing these problems.”

Bornstein said the main issue with the two recent power outages was the equipment failures affected the city's only incoming line of power generated by FPL. It then takes several hours for the city to fire up its own power plant.

“It highlights the need for a second source into the city, that second tie line," Bornstein said.

He said the city is talking with FPL right now about adding another line to bring FPL's power to Lake Worth customers. He hopes to have a plan together by the end of the year and identify a funding source for the project which would cost millions of dollars.

Bornstein also said the city is aware of certain sections of the power system that go out more frequently then others because they are in need of upgrades.

About $14 million will go toward hardening the system over the next two years. More funding is expected to be dedicated to additional hardening projects in the future.

"If you don't constantly maintain and replace and renew your infrastructure just like roads with potholes, the electric system is the same way and unfortunately in Lake Worth, over the years, the past 40 years, the city hasn’t spent the money in doing just that and we’re now in a process and a mode trying to catch up," Bornstein said.