Ease the Inconvenience of Power Outages
December 3, 2020
Electricity powers our daily lives – lights, coffee pots, phone chargers, gaming systems, computers – you name it! During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our members find themselves staying home more and more. While this certainly results in using more energy, it also increases frustration when the power blinks or goes out completely.
At Stearns Electric Association, we pride ourselves on delivering safe and reliable energy, which is why we recognize that losing power is inconvenient and annoying. While we do our best to limit interruptions, some outages are unavoidable. Whether they are scheduled or unexpected, we are committed to getting the lights and your lives running again as quickly and safely as possible.
Despite a strong reliability record, there are many reasons why even the best utilities experience outages. As you know, most outages occur during storms that produce heavy rains and high winds causing trees to fall into power lines. In addition, vehicle accidents and animals are also common reasons for outages. All of these causes are outside of our control and result in unplanned outages.
Blinking lights are a result of momentary outages that occur when some type of disturbance exists on the line and are most often also caused by uncontrollable circumstances.
When a breaker in your house senses a power problem, the breaker trips and the flow of power is stopped until someone resets the breaker. Our system has equipment that serves a similar purpose. Devices such as oil circuit reclosers (OCR) are designed to sense problems on the line such as tree branches, animals or abnormal system conditions. In these instances, the OCR opens to stop the fault, and then quickly closes back in, resulting in a “blink” in power. If the disturbance on the line persists, the OCR will continue to operate or “trip” two more times before remaining open, cutting off power to the affected section of line. This makes it easier for our crews to isolate and identify issues, and restore power quickly.
While “blinks” may be a temporary aggravation, they are actually indicators that our system is functioning properly.
The equipment that delivers power to your home sometimes needs to be repaired, replaced or upgraded. When this happens and working on an energized line poses too much risk, we plan a power outage in order to keep our crews safe while they complete the work. Planned outages help us avoid longer, more inconvenient, unplanned outages and catastrophic equipment failure. In addition, repairs and upgrades are essential to keep our system running smoothly, improve reliability and keep the public safe.
When a planned service interruption is required, we do our best to plan these outages when you’ll be the least inconvenienced, to limit the duration of the outage and to communicate with those who will be impacted in advance whenever possible.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
Whether they are expected or unexpected, blinks or sustained, we know power interruptions are frustrating. Especially now that many of you are working and/or schooling from home. While we do everything in our power to ensure your power stays on, we count on your help in a number of ways to restore outages quickly and reduce the impact of interruptions on your life.
- Keep your contact information updated. By ensuring that your account is updated with an accurate phone number and email address, Stearns Electric is able to properly notify you in advance of a planned outage, contact you if there is an issue and speed up restoration in the event of an outage. To update your info, please call our office at (800) 962-0655, visit SmartHub or complete our online form at www.stearnselectric.org.
- Use surge protectors. Purchase appliances with built-in surge protection or install surge protectors to help safeguard valuable electronic equipment such as computers and home entertainment systems.
- Report outages. While our technology helps us identify large outages, it does not tell us where or when individual outages occur. Also you can provide more detailed information about the outage than we can obtain, which helps our crews identify the issues and restore power quicker.
- Report frequent blinks. While most often a blink isn’t anything to worry about, ongoing or frequent blinks should be reported to the Cooperative during regular business hours so that our crews can further investigate potential causes and remedy them.
- Consider alternative backup power sources. If you are scheduled to be working or learning from home for the foreseeable future, you might want to consider a battery backup source or standby generator for your home or appliances.
Stearns Electric Association is committed to restoring your power as quickly and safely as possible.
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