Power Outages and Reporting an Outage
One of OTEC's top priorities is to provide our members with reliable service. That means keeping the power on.
But sometimes circumstances - like weather, storms, accidents, even animals coming into contact with poles, lines and transformers - create outages. And sometimes these power outages can become widespread and of long duration.
OTEC line crews work diligently to pinpoint the cause of the outages and make repairs, but it sometimes takes hours to restore service to all circuits and lines. They tackle the problems from the substations out, checking the three-phase circuits and finally the single-phase lines. It is sometimes possible to "isolate" the problem area and "back feed" areas around it to get the lights back on to the largest number of members. But, the line crews still have to repair the damaged lines or poles.
This is why, during a widespread outage, electricity is often restored on one side of a road, while neighbors across the street remain in the dark. The circuit feeds dictate the progression of power restoration. Please be patient. OTEC linemen will have the system back in normal operation as quickly as possible.
During outages of longer duration that affect hundreds or thousands of members, the outage reporting phone lines can become overloaded. Again, be patient and try to place your call again if unsuccessful in your first attempt.
STEPS TO TAKE DURING A POWER OUTAGE
If the electricity goes out, take time to confirm a few points before calling to report the problem.
1. If possible, check to see if your neighbors are also without power. If not, the interruption might have been caused by something on your side of the electric meter, such as a tripped breaker or shorted fuse. If the outage is due to a problem on your side of the meter and OTEC dispatches a crew, there will be a service charge for the cost of responding.
2. If your neighbors have power but you don't - and you are sure that the problem is not on your side of the meter call our Outage Number and give the customer service representative (CSR) all details available to you.
3. The OTEC electric distribution system is designed to protect against faults. If a tree or limb blows into a line or circuit, the system's protective devices will operate, giving time for the fault to clear. Then, the protective device will reopen to "see" if the fault has cleared itself. This process is normal, but might result in the lights blinking two or three times in succession. If the fault does not clear itself, the protective devices will remain open and the power shut off until the problem is isolated and repaired. This results in a general outage.
4. While waiting for power restoration - especially after a severe storm - go through your house and turn off appliances and light switches, especially heating and air conditioning systems. This will help relieve "cold load" problems when the co-op attempts to re-energize the lines. Cold load is a sudden heavy demand on a newly energized line that can cause the voltage to drop and could result in another outage. When the electricity is restored, turn your lights and appliances back on.
5. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed during a power outage. The food inside should remain cold for several hours.
6. If you operate a portable or backup generator during a power outage, be sure to connect the generator in a manner that ensures electricity cannot back feed on OTEC lines. Every year in the United States, electric linemen are seriously injured or killed from electrocution due to generator back feeds. You might be personally liable for such accidents. Call OTEC for advice on how to safely wire a generator at your home or farm.
7. Under no circumstances should you approach downed power lines or poles. Treat all OTEC electric equipment as if it is fully energized. Never try to clear limbs or brush from lines. Never try to extricate people from vehicles on which power lines have fallen. Stay away! Notify 911 or an appropriate emergency agency. Co-op linemen will be dispatched immediately.
TO REPORT AN OUTAGE
When there are major outages, OTEC frequently sends out outage information to the local media and shares that information on OTEC's website, Facebook page and Twitter account. When we have major outages or extended outages, we make sure that we continuously share our OUTAGE REPORT phone number (1.866.430.4265) for members to call to report outages.Â Sometimes OTEC refers to this number as the CRC OUTAGE REPORT number.
Here’s what we mean by CRC when we ask our members to call the CRC Outage Reporting number at 1.866.430.4265:
- OTEC’s outage report number is 1.866.430.4265 (it is sometimes also referred to as the “CRC Outage Reporting” number.)
- When an OTEC member calls this outage reporting number to report an outage, the call is automatically routed to the Cooperative Response Center (CRC), which handles ALL of OTEC’s outage calls. CRC also dispatches our line crews to the trouble spots that members have called in to report.
- OTEC is a member of the Cooperative Response Center (CRC). CRC is a customer contact center service located in Minnesota that is driven by live customer service representatives (CSRs). CRC is a service-center cooperative. It provides outage reporting services to OTEC and hundreds of other electric distribution co-ops across the nation.
- CRC handles all of OTEC’s outage calls and is capable of handing the high volume of telephone calls that typically occurs with major power outages. Be assured that the CRC representative will note your outage report and quickly get the information to OTEC.
- Using CRC means that OTEC can take a high number of incoming calls during emergencies without tying up OTEC’s internal phone lines needed for outgoing communication and coordination of the outage response. CRC representatives will take your message and immediately convey the information to OTEC for follow-up.
- CRC handles OTEC’s outage reporting 24-hours a day. That means that a member can all at ANY time and CRC will dispatch an OTEC lineman to handle the problem. CRC also follows up and calls back all members who have called in to report an outage â€“ to let those members know that power has been restored.