Have you ever wondered what happens between the time when your power goes out at night and when it’s restored? We asked Serviceman Jeff Young, a veteran and lineman of over eight years, to walk us through the steps our linemen take during after-hour power outages.
When an outage occurs, the two on-call linemen receive a phone call from dispatch letting us know both the physical address and the nine-digit location of the outage. This nine-digit location shows where the outage is on our lines. Since we have two linemen on-call both in Roxboro and Hillsborough, we can be at most outage locations within 45 minutes. If the road conditions are poor, our response time will slow just a little. Even though there is a sense of urgency to restore power, we must still arrive safely.
I say good night to my wife and I’m on my way. Each on-call lineman has either a bucket truck or a pickup truck equipped to handle outage situations so that we are ready to restore power as quickly and safely as possible.
Once we arrive on site, we patrol the lines and check the poles, looking for the cause of the outage. The nine-digit location number will take us to an individual member’s home, but if it is a large-scale outage, we may need to ride miles of line before we discover the issue.
After the problem is identified, our priority is to restore power to the most members first and then work on the smaller outages affecting a handful of members. Our electric grid has reclosers/breakers that turn off the power flow when it senses trouble on the connected lines, so when possible we reroute and restore power to any lines not affected once the cause of the outage has been isolated. This is why members might notice that their neighbors have power while theirs is still offline.
If you find yourself in this situation and are curious, it is much safer to call our outage line at 800.449.2667 instead of walking outside to speak to the linemen. We keep dispatch updated so that you can receive this information in the safety and comfort of your home.
Typically the two on-call linemen are able to fix most outages. If the power is out due to a broken pole or a large tree, we notify our supervisor and additional linemen and/or right-of-way crews are sent to the site. This is common during hurricanes, ice and snow storms. We work during all weather conditions.
Because safety is our priority, we will not be in the bucket if the winds exceed 30 mph and we’ll stand by in the trucks if there is lightning in the area until it’s safe to go up and work on the lines.
When members are out of power for a long time, so are our families. We live in this community and want to restore power quickly for our members, neighbors and families. We’re all in it together.
Our average restoration time is an hour and a half, but restoring power at night takes more time because we rely on flashlights and it’s difficult when we can’t see the terrain. Once everyone’s power is restored, I’ll head home and roll back into bed to catch a few hours of sleep.
I start my day, say good morning to my family and get ready to go into work and help our members. We genuinely care about our members and we all live together in this community. It’s the co-op mindset that makes all the difference.