When your electric cooperative restores electric service after a storm or other weather-related disaster, it follows a plan to ensure power is back on for the greatest number of people in the shortest amount of time and in the safest manner possible. To do that, Indiana’s electric cooperatives use this priority system when line crews are working on outages.
- Priority 1: Transmission lines. These high voltage lines carry electricity from generating plants to substations (or between substations). They are supported by the tall towers, usually of steel lattice framing or sometimes tall wooden poles in an “H” or “M” configuration, carrying multiple lines. Since tens of thousands of people could be served by one transmission line, damage here needs to be taken care of first.
- Priority 2: Substations. These electrical facilities contain equipment that switches or regulates the voltage of electricity. They lower the voltage from the transmission lines so the electricity can be transmitted through the distribution lines. If problems are taken care of at the substation, power to a large number of people can be restored.
- Priority 3: Main distribution lines. You see these along roadways. They carry electricity from the substations to groups of consumers, like towns or housing developments. When power is restored here, all consumers from this supply line will see their power come on unless there is a problem farther down the line.
- Priority 4: Tap lines. These are electric feeder lines running from the main distribution line to utility poles and underground transformers outside houses or buildings. Small numbers of consumers are served by them.
- Priority 5: Individual service. These lines run from the transformer to the individual consumer’s electric meter.
Repairs to individual homes come after all other larger fixes. Consumers may see lights on at neighboring homes and see line crews working in the area, but they may still not have power at their home. When this happens, it generally means the service line between their home and the nearby transformer has been damaged. If this happens, consumers should contact their electric cooperative right away to let the cooperative know a line crew needs to come to their individual homes.
Keep your co-op informed and stay informed during outages
Power restoration can be a tricky business, so if you lose service in your home or neighborhood please remember the following:
- Report the outage to your electric cooperative as soon as possible.
- Make sure your cooperative knows if loss of power affects life support systems or could cause any additional threat to health and safety.
For updated information on outages, stay connected to your cooperative on its social media channels.
Keep safety in mind during a power outage
If you are experiencing a power outage, before calling your electric cooperative, check to see if others in your area are without power. If those around you have power, check your home’s panel box. A blown fuse or tripped circuit could be at fault.
If you’ve determined the outage isn’t due to an issue on your end, or if it’s a widespread outage, report it. Don’t assume others have done so already.
Once you have reported the outage, please know the line crews will work diligently to restore power. Make sure you are connected to the cooperative’s social media channels to receive restoration updates. Most cooperatives now have a presence on some form of social media.
Other tips to keep in mind during an outage:
- Use generators, grills and similar items outdoors only.
- Turn off appliances and electronics to prevent circuit overload when the power returns. Leave a lamp on, though, so you know when power is restored.
- Avoid downed power lines around your home. The lines could still be energized.
- Keep the door to your refrigerator or freezer closed. If your door seals are tight, your food will normally be safe for several hours.
No one wants, or likes, a power outage. However, knowing the steps to take during an outage will keep you safe and help you through it.