Halloween night outage leaves downtown Grand Haven in the dark

Becky Vargo • Nov 1, 2016 at 7:30 PM

For some area residents, a power outage in downtown Grand Haven just added to the Halloween fun.

Power was out for the last half-hour of neighborhood trick-or-treating following an equipment failure at the Grand Haven Board of Light & Power’s diesel plant on Harbor Drive.

Fewer than 1,300 customers were affected in the downtown area.

On social media, some residents speculated that the cause was either squirrels or clowns. 

Still, they questioned why there have been so many power outages in the area lately. Outages experienced by the BLP the past couple of weeks have been “for a variety of unrelated reasons,” noted utility spokeswoman Renee Molyneux.

Incidents in Grand Haven on Oct. 22 and 29 were caused by squirrels getting into separate substations operated by the BLP on Harbor Island. Tree limbs crossing electrical lines caused outages affecting the North Ottawa Community Hospital area on Oct. 26 and the West Spring Lake Road area in Ferrysburg on Oct. 28, Molyneux said.

“Crews were promptly dispatched following each event, with all five occurrences being resolved within two hours or less,” she said.

Since BLP crews do not work around the clock, response times to incidents that occur after hours are slower than when an outage occurs during business hours, Molyneux noted.

The BLP recently implemented improvements to its outage reporting processes with the installation of an Outage Management System (OMS) on the utility’s website and through the contracting of a back-up call center for high-demand periods, Molyneux said. Through the OMS, customers may log their outage directly on the system, view the number of customers affected and see estimated restoration times. Customers may also report outages by phone.

“We have been encouraging customers to report any power outages by calling 616-846-6250 or by adding them directly to our OMS system at ghblp.org,” Molyneux said. “BLP operators monitor these systems 24/7, 365 days per year, and guarantee the quickest response times by line crews. 

“Some customers will occasionally report their outages on our social media platforms — however, these platforms are not typically monitored after hours and risk being overlooked until the following morning,” she added.

BLP General Manager David Walters noted that the municipal utility has maintained 99.97 percent reliability from the beginning of the year through Nov. 1, which includes the recent outages.

“Maintaining a reliable and dependable distribution system is one of the BLP’s primary goals,” Walters said. “While the BLP has historically proven to be very reliable, we routinely evaluate the causes of all outages and our response to them to determine and assess what measures can be implemented to reduce their frequency and duration. Although only one of the recent outages was related to equipment failure, the BLP recognizes a need to reinvest more in our distribution lines and substations as the system ages. Additionally, our vegetation management and tree-trimming program is revised to address problem areas as they are identified.”

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