How Power Is Restored

To members of the media: Consumers have many questions regarding the power restoration process. Understandably, EMCs receive hundreds of inquiries during storms. Consequently, the information below is offered to help the press inform readers, viewers and listeners about the complex task of restoring electric service.

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. For a graphic representation of the restoration process, see “How Power is Restored”.

The main goal is to safely restore power to the greatest number of customers in the shortest time possible. In summary, three primary areas must be addressed.

One: 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.

Two: 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.

Third: 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 based on restoring service to the greatest number of consumers.

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.