Interruptions for improvements — planned outages benefit all members
Like any electric provider, our cooperative aims to make your electric service as reliable as possible. Planned power outages — though rare — help us achieve that goal.
First, regular maintenance — like replacing a damaged or deteriorating utility pole or trimming trees near power lines — may also require planned outages. These outages allow our employees to work in a safer environment.
“On our system, planned outages are almost always about maintenance,” says NAEC Operations Superintendent Richard Ballard. “If we have a bad pole that we determine is too dangerous for our linemen to work on while it’s energized, we will cut power so they can work safely.”
Second, technological advances allow us to strengthen the grid. Stronger poles and wires, and the development of devices that better protect equipment from winds and wildlife all reduce the chances outages occur, especially during storms.
To make these upgrades, though, we sometimes have to shut off power. Planned outages allow us to notify our members about when these will occur and how long the outages will last, allowing them to prepare and mitigate any inconveniences the outages might cause.
A third reason planned outages may occur is the need to relocate lines and other equipment ahead of public infrastructure improvements like road expansion projects. And yet another reason for planned outages is when we need to add new members to the grid.
As your cooperative, we will aim to schedule these outages at the most convenient times. We also endeavor to provide our members with plenty of notice of any scheduled outages. Keeping your contact information updated will help us with those efforts.
Weathering planned power outages
While losing power may not be ideal, members can take several steps to lessen the inconvenience caused by necessary upgrades to our power grids.
- Charge cellphones ahead of any outage. Keep them and a list of emergency contact numbers in case help is needed.
- Keep flashlights and a supply of batteries for them handy.
- Turn off major appliances like washers and dryers so they do not run unexpectedly when power returns. This includes ovens, stoves, and any other heat-generating devices that could cause fire if left unattended while operational.
- Keep refrigerators and freezers closed to preserve the cold temperatures longer.
- Make sure garages can be manually opened.
- Notify alarm system companies of the impending outage.
- Ensure generators are properly installed. Improperly installed generators can damage property or harm others.
- Have a reserve of water for cooking, flushing, and other needs if your water system relies on electrical service to operate.
Sources: Puget Sound Energy, Pacific Gas and Electric, PPL Electric Utilities, and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association