LCEC – Lee County Electric Cooperative

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Storm Center

Storm Center

LCEC thoroughly prepares long before a hurricane threatens to make landfall in Southwest Florida. To ensure LCEC has the resources needed for restoration, the organization cultivates relationships with power line and tree-trimming contractors, fuel companies, material vendors, food service vendors, other cooperatives and local agencies for back-up resources.

In addition, the nearly 400 LCEC employees each play a critical role in the restoration plan. Employees put their typical job responsibilities on hold to pitch in during restoration.

How customers should prepare for outages

  • Prepare your loved ones and yourself for potential outages by reviewing your family’s disaster plan. 
  • Ensure that you have battery back-up’s and/or back-up phone’s that are dependent on electricity.
  • Have a battery-powered radio on hand and a supply of fresh batteries to stay aware of news and other information.
  • Keep a flashlight and extra batteries handy.

What to do when the lights go out

  • Help keep LCEC’s telephone lines clear for emergency calls. Only call LCEC at 656-2300 to report downed power lines.
  • Visually check your weather-head (on the roof where your service drop connects to the pole) and your meter box to make sure it is not damaged.
  • Any damage to your home’s electric system must be repaired by a licensed electrician and inspected by a designated agency before power to your home can be restored.
  • Turn off your appliances.  This will protect them when service is restored, prevent electrical fires and lessen the chances of circuit overload when service is restored.  You may leave one light on to serve as a visual signal that power has been restored.

Storm Safety Tips

  • Stay clear of downed power lines. They may still be energized and dangerous. Puddles of water contacting downed lines are just as dangerous.
  • Don’t trim trees or remove debris located near downed power lines. If you must remove debris from your home, don’t pile it under or near electrical lines or equipment.
  • Residents on life support need to have an alternate plan in place to ensure the continuity of any life-support needs. This may include making special arrangements to spend time with a friend or relative during an outage or using a back-up generator.
  • If operating a portable generator, keep it outside and in an open area that is well ventilated. Carbon monoxide emissions can be harmful. Follow all instructions regarding safe operation. Do not connect the generator directly to your main electrical panel. If installed incorrectly, power could flow into outside lines and injure you, your neighbors or utility crews working in the area.
  • Avoid detaining LCEC employees or contractors while they are working to restore power. This can be distracting, can cause an accident and impedes the process.

Restoration Priorities

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
    • 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.

LCEC Hurricane Guide
How LCEC restores power after a storm
National Hurricane Center Disaster Planning
National Hurricane Survival Initiative
National Weather Service Hurricane Center
Using Portable Generators Safely

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