As we have seen across the country in the past few weeks Mother Nature can often be unpredictable, and when she gets angry, you may find yourself without power. Storms, floods, tornadoes, snow and ice pose major threats to all kinds of infrastructure, including our electric distribution system.
Electric co-ops like Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative serve more than 71 percent of the state’s landmass, including some of the most remote areas in Tennessee. During a widespread outage, we must use our time and resources wisely to minimize the impact on our members.
When the lights go out, we start by assessing the damage. Our goal is to restore service to the greatest number of members in the shortest amount of time possible. This is how we do it.
Our crews first inspect substations. Damage to TVA supply lines or substations could affect thousands of members, so these areas are our first priority.
If the problem cannot be isolated at a substation, main distribution lines are checked next. These are the lines you’re most likely familiar with. Distribution lines carry power to large groups of members in SVEC’s service area.
Smaller “single-phase” lines are examined next. These lines supply individual subdivisions and roads. Damage here could impact anywhere from dozens of members to entire neighborhoods.
Finally, we repair service lines that connect individual homes. Keep in mind that we cannot repair anything attached to your home. If you have damage to your weatherhead or meterbase, this will need to be repaired by an electrician before our crews can reconnect your service.
In recent years, technology has significantly improved the restoration process. Our automated metering technology, in addition to allowing you to view your electric use daily and better manage your electric bill, allows us to see which meters have stopped reporting in. That information paired with a more efficient way of taking outage calls by utilizing the services of our cooperative partner, the Cooperative Response Center, helps us pinpoint the location and cause of the outage in a more timely manner, get repairs made and our members back online faster. We even have computer programs that will analyze the outage data coming in and predict the device that is out, such as a breaker or a fuse. Our outage management system also enables our substations to send us alerts if there is a problem.
Over the past several years our mapping system has been converted to a digital, computerized system using GPS mapping that is now the backbone of our outage management system. Each of our line and service trucks is equipped with an iPad that has complete access to the outage management system. This program gives our line crews vital information in the field such as directions to member locations, information on transformer locations and sizes and other information that will allow them to arrive at the location quickly with the correct materials needed to make the repairs. It also allows them to see where other SVEC crews are working and to transfer the job to a crew that is closer to the location if possible. This efficient system which puts real-time information in the hands of the operations team saves time and money.
To keep them up-to-date on the progress of repairs, our members have access to the SVEC outage map thorough our website and the SVEC Mobile App available free from the iTunes app store for Apple devices and through Google Play for Android devices. SVEC members may also keep up with the latest SVEC news by checking in with the cooperative on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Our team at Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative is passionate about keeping the lights on. In the last 12 months our average member has had service 99.97 percent of the time, and we are improving that statistic each year. However, with the unpredictability of Mother Nature, we know that extended outages are possible and that they are an inconvenience for your family, so you can be confident that when the lights go out our crews do as well –assessing the damage, developing a plan and getting the power back on as quickly as possible. If you are driving and come upon a downed power line, stay in your vehicle, warn others to stay away, and contact emergency personnel or the electric utility. Never drive over a downed line. A downed line causes other things around it to become potentially hazardous.
For more information visit www.svalleyec.com.