LCEC has 170,000 customers without power. Some areas were hit hard, and it could take weeks to restore. Damage assessment is underway, and restoration estimates are not possible until the full impact is known.
So what happens when the lights go out?
After LCEC restores power to critical community services like hospitals and fire departments, our main goal is to restore power to the greatest number of customers in the shortest amount of time. A detailed plan helps LCEC prioritize what to do, which includes communicating to restoration crews and the public to improve efficiency and maintain public safety. In general, the following steps occur:
While the storm was approaching, local repair crews were put on standby and additional resources from out of the area were brought in, so they could respond quickly to problems while it was safe to work. They were ready to begin restoration as soon as the storm passed. Once damage is assessed, utilities have a better idea of restoration times.
The first day is for restoring power lines that weren’t badly damaged and for damage assessment to determine a planned, safe, and quick restoration and clear the area of downed power lines so that other services can operate.
The first priority is to repair any damage to the transmission system, because these high-voltage lines supply power from a generating plant to one or more distribution substations and serve tens of thousands of customers.
Substations (electrical facilities that contain equipment to transform the voltage from transmission levels to distribution levels) are repaired next. These substations are located throughout the LCEC service territory, each serving thousands of customers.
Main distribution lines carry power from the substations. Each line may serve thousands of consumers. These lines typically run down major roads, and when the problem is corrected at this stage, those customers served by the distribution line will have power restored.
Tap lines are electric feeder lines that run from a main distribution line to transformer poles or underground transformers outside of buildings and throughout neighborhoods. Because these lines serve a few customers, they have lower priority. Even if these lines are not damaged, the customer will still be without power until the main line is repaired.
Individual service lines run from the transformer to a building’s meter. If this line is damaged, it may explain why your neighbor has power and you do not. This type of damage has the lowest priority, since the line serves only one customer.
Tips for Customers
There are a variety of things a customer can do to minimize the impact of a power outage before, during, and after the event:
Always have a backup generator ready in case of an outage; generators should not be connected to the premise wiring unless the proper isolation equipment is installed.
If you see a downed line, stay away from it and call 911 or LCEC immediately. If a power line contacts your car, stay in the vehicle and keep others away. Never drive over downed power lines.
Call as soon as you are aware of the outage. Customer calls help repair crews locate damage. Provide the address where the outage occurred and a phone number or account number if requested. In the instance of a widespread outage, there is no need to call because LCEC technology has already identified an outage and it is best to keep the lines open for emergencies.
Damage to meters or other facility equipment may require repair before reconnection to the grid.
Crews may be working in your area. Slow down and give the line crews plenty of room when you see a utility warning sign. Please do not disrupt their work unless it is urgent. Rest assured they are working as quickly and safely as possible to restore your power.
Just because you don’t see crews in your area doesn’t mean we aren’t working. We repair the source first and follow that with downline repairs until your service is restored.
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