West Liberty ready for an emergency

Jacob Lane · Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Anyone living in West Liberty was treated to a complete power outage the evening of Nov. 14. From 5-6:30 p.m. all electricity was shut down three separate times, covering the city in darkness.

The scheduled outage was due to turbine testing. The city's electrical department was testing whether West Liberty could power itself from its own turbines in case of an emergency. Currently, the city is powered by an out of town company known as ITC.

"We got it to work," said Electrical Department Head Ed Tvrs. "The turbines were more than adequate to carry the load for the city."

From noon to around 2 p.m. they worked on transferring the electrical load from ITC to West Liberty's personal turbines, from 2-4:30 p.m. the department switched that load back and forth between the two sources.

During the time, the town experienced no significant outages; in fact, the electricity hardly blinked at all.

At 5 p.m. the department initiated a black start, a process in which it shuts off all electricity and attempts to fire up the city purely from its own turbines.

It took three different attempts, each of which knocked out all electricity for 15 minute intervals. During the first two tries the department had to make changes and get the turbine’s circuits in correct order.

According to Tvrs, they had to reprogram the relays, since they were working inadequately. This caused the city's turbine engines to work against each other.

However, everything is working correctly now. On the third black start they were able to power up the city, after which they switched it over to its normal power source, ITC.

"In the whole scheme of things we now know we can run the town off of the turbines," added Tvrs. "In an emergency we can last as long as we have fuel."

The city's turbines run off of diesel fuel. In case of an electrical emergency the city now knows it has a back up source for electricity.

"Hopefully we don't ever have to use them, but that's why they're here," said Tvrs.
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