How do electric cooperatives prioritize repairs after a major storm? Whenever the electricity goes out, we’ve come to expect service will be restored within a few hours at most. But when a major ice storm or tornadoes cause widespread damage, longer outages cannot be helped. Line crews work long, hard hours restoring service, but it’s a task that needs to be done methodically to be done safely.
Here’s a refresher course on how electric cooperatives go about the task of restoring service after severe storms. Every co-op follows a basic principle when it comes to restoring power: priority goes to the lines that will get the most people back in service the quickest. This usually begins with main lines and continues out to tap lines and then to individual service lines.
Exceptions are made for people on life-supporting medical equipment. Notify your co-op immediately if someone in your family uses such equipment, and always have a backup generator ready.
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A big storm has just hit the countryside! What happens next?
In this simplified diagram, most of the countryside is in the dark. Fortunately, the substation serving the area is energized. It’s receiving power from the transmission lines, shown in red. But a main distribution line from the substation to most of the area is damaged, leaving most of the consumers in this area without power.
All repairs start with the main line. A large number of consumers down the line will have power returned once the main line is fixed.
With the main line now fixed (now shown in red), the electric cooperative line crew can better isolate other damage and prioritize repairs.
Though a couple of repairs were closer, fixing the line into this subdivision down the road will get many more consumers on faster.
Moving back down the road, the crew stops by this intersection to fix a damaged tap line. This repair restores power to the homes (shown with orange arrows) along this stretch of line
Another tap line serving a number of homes and a farm on the hill is next on the list for this hard-working line crew.
By now, the folks in the blue house probably are wondering “what gives?” They see lights in the homes of their neighbors; they’ve seen electric cooperative crews going by their home and working right across the road. And still they have no power! Electricity is coming to the pole outside the blue home (that happened with the first repair in Step 1), but the service line from the pole to their home is damaged. Repairs like these to individual homes come after crews have performed all the larger fixes.
Finally, all power is restored to the area.
Please note: Our line crew may need to come out in the following days and weeks to make long-term repairs and rebuild sections of line that were severely damaged by the storm. This might mean you will find blinking clocks when you get home from work or be notified of planned short-term power outages. It might also mean tree-trimming crews will be in the area to make sure rights-of-way are clear of overhanging tree branches. Wind and ice storms can topple trees into power lines which account for many of the outages in wooded areas. When you see the orange diamond-shaped “Utility Work Ahead” or similar warning signs along the road, be sure to slow down and give the line crews plenty of room. They might just be working on the power line that powers your home. If you ever have questions about outages and repairs, be sure to call your our office.
- Q. How do I report an outage?
- Report all power outages by calling LREC directly at 918-772-2526 or 800-364-5732, even if you think others have already reported it. If it is after normal business hours, a weekend, or a holiday, your call will automatically transfer to LREC’s 24-hour dispatch center. Remember, never report an outage using email or social media because those services are not monitored 24/7. When reporting an outage, be ready to provide the following information: Your name: Account number: Your physical address: How long you have been out of power. Unusual events, sites, or sounds on or near your property or around LREC equipment might have caused the outage.
- Q. How long does an outage take to restore?
- Every outage is unique. The number of members impacted and the length of an outage varies each time, meaning outages can be as short as a few minutes and as long as days. As a result, LREC may not be able to immediately tell you how long a power outage may last. We will do our best to provide an estimate of time and recommend checking the outage map above regularly and following our Facebook page. We try our best to provide outage updates and information on this page when it is safe to do so.
- Q. What should I do if I see a broken power line or damaged LREC equipment?
- Report any downed lines or broken equipment to LREC immediately by calling 918-772-2526. Then, stay away from these items and keep others, including children and pets, away. Do not attempt to repair or move downed lines or broken equipment or anything coming in contact with them. Even when damaged, always assume any power line or piece of equipment is still transmitting high-voltage electricity.
- Q. What can I do to better prepared for a power outage?
- LREC recommends having an emergency kit on hand that is ready to go in case of any type of emergency. Be sure to include items like batteries, bottled water, a portable radio, flashlights, portable power banks, spare blankets, basic toiletries, and a first aid kit. You may not need most of these items during an average power outage, but you will be prepared for a more extended emergency. Learn more about power outage safety kits from the American Red Cross Power Outage Checklist.
- Q. If the power goes out, what should I do with the food in my refrigerator or freezer?
- Don’t peek. If the door remains closed, your food can remain safely cold for about four hours. Frozen food can remain safe for up to two days if your freezer is full and the doors remain closed. Learn more about food safety during a power outage from the American Red Cross.
- Q. Should I have a generator in case of a power outage?
- If you need guaranteed electricity 24/7 to power life-sustaining medical equipment, you should purchase a generator that can support your equipment during a power outage. It is critical that you follow all installation, maintenance, and use guidelines set by the generator manufacturer. Not only can it be extremely dangerous if a generator isn’t used correctly, putting both you and LREC linemen at risk, it is also against the law and a violation of electrical codes to connect a generator to your home without an automatic transfer switch. LREC offers these please call and ask about our GenerLink. Why? If a generator is producing power during an outage and it is improperly connected, it can back feed (or send) power onto LREC’s system and endanger the lives of our crews who are working to restore power. Additionally, it can be a major fire hazard.