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Lights out? Thirty-one percent of power outages are triggered by the weather. Lineworkers must battle the elements to find problem areas and restore service as quickly and safely as possible.
Your co-op staff knows you want to know why the lights are out and when they are coming back on. First, workers must find the problem, and then they follow a series of steps to bring the lights back on.
Efforts are made to restore power to the largest number of members as quickly as possible. Then crews fix problems affecting smaller groups of members.
When an outage occurs, line crews work to pinpoint problems. They start with high-voltage transmission lines. Transmission towers and cables that supply power to thousands of consumers rarely fail. But when damage occurs, these facilities must be repaired before other parts of the system can operate.
Next, crews check distribution substations. Each substation serves hundreds or thousands of members. When a major outage occurs, line crews inspect substations to discover if problems stem from transmission lines feeding into the substation, the substation itself, or if problems exist down the line.
If the problem cannot be isolated at a distribution substation, distribution lines are checked. These lines carry power to large groups of members in communities or housing developments.
If local outages persist, supply lines (also called tap lines) are inspected. These lines deliver power to transformers, either mounted on poles or placed on pads for underground service, outside businesses, schools and homes.
If your home remains without power, the service line between a transformer and your home may need to be repaired.
Always call your co-op to report an outage. This helps crews isolate local issues.
B. Denise Hawkins writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.