Customer Services > When The Power Goes Off

 

Excerpted from the February, 2007 Customer Newsletter

 

How to cope with long power outages


Can anything be more inconvenient than the loss of power for days or weeks? Probably not. But it is still very much a possibility, as folks in the central part of the state now know. Bad weather is usually the blame for long power outages and extreme temperatures can make being without power unbearable or deadly. Everyone should have an emergency plan of action to protect themselves, their property and businesses when the power is out for days or weeks. The customers of Northeast Nebraska PPD have been lucky the last two years to miss the worst of the storms, but our day will come when most of our lines are torn down by ice and wind, in fact it could still happen this year…. No one ever knows. For family members that are elderly or require medical attention, perhaps the best plan is to leave the area if possible and move in with family or check into a hotel. Customers often are concerned with refrigerators and freezers, which usually are fine for days if the doors are kept closed. Refrigerated goods are much less a concern in winter temperatures than during summer. If repairs take longer than a couple of days, utilities will typically make announcements through the media about the progress in restoring power. You might imagine that the phone lines stay overwhelmed as people either report outages or make inquiries. If the weather is bitter cold then water pipes must be a concern to address, as is water for livestock. Portable generators can provide a minimum amount of emergency power to typically run one appliance and a light or two. It is usually expensive to get a generator large enough run any form of heat. Customers are reminded that they must hire an electrician to install a double throw safety switch if they want to hook a generator into the home’s wiring. A generator improperly connected into the home’s wiring can feed out onto the electric lines and be deadly to our linemen out working. Of course stand-alone generators that are not connected to the home’s wiring do not present this concern. Most really wide spread and long outages are caused by weather however, severe outages can be caused by failures in equipment, materials, or human error and these too can happen at anytime.

 

You should know that utility personnel are on duty around the clock when major outages strike. Our entire focus is to restore service as quickly and as safely as we can. Our employees have many year’s experience and know the standard protocols for restoring power. The main high voltage lines and substations must work or no one in the area served by that substation has power. This work takes priority over distribution feeders out of the subs. Once work starts on the distribution feeders then the priority is how to get the most number of people back on the quickest. Isolated customers at the ends of lines will typically be out of power the longest. We do not make individual decisions about restoring power. Everyone is important and we try to get as many back in service as fast as possible. Our crews work very long days with very little rest. Our control center is manned 24 hours a day when a big storm strikes. If need be crews will be brought in from other areas to help, just as we sent crews west. Everything humanly possible will be done to get the lights back on, but each customer is ultimately responsible for their own individual situation and must make their own decisions regarding their comfort and safety.