When Should I Report An Outage?

March 2, 2021

 • BY Ron Holcomb

In late January and early February, severe winter storms caused several extended outages on our system. While we always want to hear from you when your power is out, it’s often best to wait a few minutes before reporting your outage.

IMG 1433 Linden sub recloserOur electric system is blanketed with devices called reclosers. Reclosers are like circuit breakers in your home. If they detect a power flow problem (called a fault), they open and close circuits several times to test whether the problem was temporary. This prevents both an unsafe amount of current flowing to your home and temporary faults from becoming permanent outages.

During a storm, the reclosers are pre-programmed to have longer open intervals, allowing more time for the obstruction to clear. If a tree limb comes into contact with electric lines, the fault may only be temporary. The wind may blow the limb back off the lines or the limb might fall the rest of the way to the ground. Reclosers will open and close a circuit to clear this temporary fault and avoid a permanent outage.

So here’s where you come in. During a severe storm, you are likely to have several power blinks — a brief interruption of your electric power. This is normal as our reclosers are doing their job to keep your power flow safe and prevent lengthy outages.

When we receive outage report calls during a severe storm, our system will attempt to contact the meter attached to your home. This is called “pinging” a meter. If we can’t contact the meter, we identify your power out and dispatch a crew to investigate.

All this can happen within just a few minutes, during which time the recloser might restore power from a temporary fault. Waiting a few minutes to report your outage will help us send our crews where they are needed most.

In addition to managing temporary outages, reclosers also help us analyze blinks over time to determine where additional tree trimming might be needed. We’ll contact you if we plan to conduct any vegetation management on your property.

Finally, a heartfelt thanks to our line crews, engineers, and operations analysts who worked through the night during the Jan. 25 ice storm. Their dedication to you is second to none.

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Ron Holcomb

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Ron is a 30 year veteran of the electric utility industry with extensive experience in power supply, advanced grid technologies, essential service operations, economic development and value-driven growth initiatives for combined electric and telecommunication utilities. During his career, he has led three utilities as President/CEO and provided management consulting to utilities across the country. Ron joined Tipmont REMC as CEO in summer 2013. He holds a B.S. in Physics from Austin Peay State University and an MBA from Murray State University.
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