As the general manager of Powell Valley Electric Cooperative, I’m accustomed to members’ questions about power outages and why it can take time to get the lights back on. This month, I’d like to shed light on our restoration process to help our members understand what could be happening behind the scenes. Here are 10 things you might not know about restoration:

  1. We need you. When your power goes out, it might be just at your home or small section of a neighborhood. We rely on you to let us know if your power is out. To report an outage, call your local Powell Valley Electric office or report it on the PVEC app.
  2. Our employees might be affected too. Because Powell Valley Electric Cooperative is a local electric cooperative owned by the members we serve, our employees are local as well. When you’re without power, our employees might be too.
  3. It’s a team effort. Every one of Powell Valley Electric Cooperative’s employees is working to get your power restored as soon as possible. When your power goes out, we all work together as quickly and safely as possible to get you back to normal.
  4. We assess the situation first. Every outage is different, and we don’t know how dangerous it is or what equipment might need to be replaced. When responding to outages, we first need to see what happened. Then, we figure out what materials we need and form a plan for how to fix the problems without compromising electric flow for the rest of our members.
  5. Restoration is normally prioritized by the largest number of members we can get back on in the shortest amount of time. Our crews focus on responding first to public safety issues and critical services like hospitals. Then, we complete work that will impact the largest number of people first.
  6. Our employees face many dangers. Besides working around high-voltage electricity, our crews are on alert for wild animals, weather elements, falling trees and fast-moving cars. (If you ever drive past one of our vehicles, please do so slowly.)
  7. Flickering lights are a good thing. Some folks mistake flickering lights for outages, but these “blinks” are important because they indicate our equipment worked and prevented a possible outage likely caused by wayward animals or stray tree limbs on the lines.
  8. You need a backup plan. We do our best to help those who need it, but if you depend on electricity for life support purposes, you must have a backup plan — remember, we don’t always know how long restoration efforts will take.
  9. Our employees have to plan. If you ever see our trucks in a public space or parking lot while your power is out, know that sometimes our employees huddle in a safe, common area to map out their plan for getting your power back on.
  10. Sometimes it’s a waiting game. Our portion of the power grid is connected to other electric utilities, and we maintain positive relationships with power providers interconnected to our system. If our outage is due to an issue from their feed into our system, we must let them do their repairs and be mindful of what they’re going through to fix it.

We do our best to avoid power disruptions, but they are inevitable from time to time. If the lights go out, know that your co-op team is working as quickly and safely as possible to restore power.

— Brad Coppock