- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 27, 2008

MIAMI (AP) — Florida’s largest utility said equipment failure and a fire at a Miami substation led to power outages that affected up to 3 million people yesterday from Daytona Beach through the Florida Keys.

An equipment malfunction in a substation near Miami disabled two power distribution lines between Miami and Daytona Beach, and in response, the Turkey Point nuclear plant south of Miami automatically shut down around 1 p.m., Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Kenneth Clark said.

“We don’t know the nature of the equipment malfunction,” he said.

Florida Power & Light was still trying to determine what caused the failure and fire. The company said an such equipment failure should not have caused the widespread blackouts.

Officials with the company said about 20,000 people remained without power by 5:30 p.m. Most of those were due to outages caused by storms.

An FP&L; spokesman initially said its nuclear plant caused the outages to about a fifth of Florida’s population. But the utility’s nuclear spokesman, Dick Winn, later said grid problems caused both reactors at the plant to shut down between 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. Two coal-burning power plants at Turkey Point also shut down, authorities said.

“All the safety systems worked just like they were supposed to and both of those units are in stable condition right now,” Mr. Winn said.

Power was restored in some places by early afternoon and was estimated to be fully restored by 6 p.m.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez said the outages were technical, not criminal.

“It’s a matter of just a cascading effect,” he said.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the reactors automatically shut down as designed.

The commission said based on reports from its resident inspectors at the plant, it was not immediately known what caused the initial drop in voltage from outside Turkey Point. But when the two reactors shut down it would have worsened the problem.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has responsibility for electricity grid reliability, said it wants to know whether there were any violations of federal rules.

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