|To members of the media: EMCs are often asked by consumers what steps they can take to prepare for an impending storm. Many co-ops have chosen to share this information prior to a storm so that consumers know the precautions to take before bad weather hits. The following is offered to share with readers, viewers and listeners to prepare them for inclement weather. Also, view our Weather Links for additional preparedness resources.
Restoring power after a major outage is an enormous undertaking that involves much more than simply throwing a switch or removing a tree from a line. The main goal is to safely restore power to the greatest number of customers in the shortest time possible.
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Step 1: Power plants, transmission lines and substations must be repaired first.
Power plants supply electricity to transmission lines which supply power to substations. Transmission lines seldom fail, but they can be damaged by ice storms, tornadoes and hurricanes. Tens of thousands of people could be served by a single high-voltage transmission line, so if there is damage here, it gets attention first.
A co-op may have several local distribution substations, each serving thousands of consumers. When a major outage occurs, the local distribution substations are checked first. A problem here could be caused by failure in the transmission system supplying the substation. If the problem can be corrected at the substation level, power may be restored to a large number of people.
Step 2: Distribution lines must be repaired.
Main distribution supply lines are checked next, if the problem cannot be isolated at the substation. These supply lines carry electricity away from the substation to a group of customers, such as a subdivision. When power is restored at this stage, all consumers served by this supply line could see the lights come on, as long as there is no problem farther down the line.
Step 3: Individual services must be restored.
The final supply lines, called service lines, carry power from the transformer on utility poles or underground transformers outside houses or other buildings. Line crews fix the remaining outages, prioritizing service restoration to the greatest number of consumers affected.
Sometimes, damage will occur on the service line between your house and the transformer on the nearby pole. This may explain why you have no power when your neighbor does. Your co-op needs to know you have an outage here so a service crew can repair it.