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“How long is it going to take?” Those are familiar words to all who work in the power industry. Electricity is a luxury we often don’t realize we’re taking for granted until we are suddenly expected to live without it. While it may seem like a simple process to replace a few poles and reattach the lines, safely restoring power after an outage takes time. 

Electricity travels a great distance and goes through several steps to get to your home or business. Large generation plants use renewable and non-renewable energy resources to produce power. From there, electricity flows through transmission lines and is then distributed to the substations that run electricity from the power lines to your home. Tri-County EMC is responsible for maintaining the lines and equipment on its distribution system. In the cooperative’s eight-county service territory, nine substations power over 2,800 miles of line bringing electricity to over 23,000 meters. During an outage, it’s all hands on deck and Tri-County employees are working round-the-clock to get the lights back on. Below is a condensed outlook of the restoration process from start to finish. (80325001)

On an abnormally windy evening, you are about to settle down for an evening meal with your family in your home, and the lights flicker off. Out your window you see that your neighbors have also lost electricity. Remembering that you are enrolled in Tri-County EMC’s texting service, you text ‘OUT’ to 85700 to report the outage.

As the storm moves across Tri-County EMC’s distribution system, outage reports are coming in regularly. Since there are multiple outages system-wide, crews will start by repairing those power lines and equipment that will restore power to the greatest number of people. Your area has been hit the hardest, so work will begin there.

Outages are caused in a number of ways. In this scenario, a tree has fallen across a main distribution line, resulting in loss of power for a large number of homes and businesses. Due to the danger of energized lines and a dark working environment, Tri-County EMC linemen must exercise extreme caution and identify all potential hazards before beginning repair. 

Now that the appropriate safety procedures have been completed, our dedicated linemen gear up for the work to begin. Fortunately, no wires were damaged when the tree fell, however, they are now pinned to the road. The tree must be chopped and cleared from the lines. This step takes time as it must be completed with special care and awareness. In the meantime, new material is arriving to replace the equipment that was broken from impact. While waiting for your power to be restored, you can view a live outage map on your mobile device of Tri-County’s service territory here.

Once the debris is cleared, a lineman will be lifted in a bucket truck to replace any damaged pole equipment. When this step is done, the wire can be lifted and reattached. After a few hours, work is complete, and your power is safely restored. Keep in mind this is just one scenario; each outage varies in time for restoration. Mother Nature can be unpredictable, but as a member of Tri-County EMC, you can feel confident knowing we’re standing by, ready to restore power as quickly and safely as possible.

Tri-County EMC’s first priority is getting the power back on, but internet outages are also a possibility during severe weather. Hopefully your lack of connection is just a result of loss of power. If power is restored and you still have no internet connection or you see damage to fiber lines, be sure to report the outage to Tri-CoGo’s 24-hour tech support line at 1.844.662.7570. Tri-CoGo is Tri-County EMC’s fiber affiliate providing internet service to members. 

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