It might surprise you to know that some power quality problems begin in the home or business. A spike (transient surge) may occur in the building's wiring when electric motors, like those on the refrigerator and air conditioner, start up. Other problems may come from faulty wiring, loose connections, poor grounding and/or inadequate wire size. These conditions can cause partial power, momentary interruptions (blinks), dimming and/or bright lights.
Most times, having the power interruption is better than the alternative — having it go out completely. Power interruptions are most often caused by exterior devices installed by Polk-Burnett to protect the electrical system. These devices are called reclosers. Reclosers essentially act like the circuit breakers in your home, with one major difference — they reset themselves after breaking the circuit. The intent is that a tree touching the line or other problem will cause the recloser to open. The device will reset itself and power will once again flow down the line. If the problem has cleared the line, power will stay on. If the problem still exists, the recloser will operate again. After trying three times, most reclosers are designed to stay open until the problem is fixed and the device is manually re-set. The opening and closing of the recloser is almost instantaneous and is often not even noticed, except by electronic devices such as digital clocks. The alternative to using a recloser is to use fuses on each line. While greater use of fuses would result in fewer power interruptions, it would also create more outages, as a fuse can only operate once.
Polk-Burnett is continually evaluating our power lines to identify potential problems so blinks and outages can be avoided. While we will never be able to prevent all blinks, please let us know if your home or business experiences an excessive number of power interruptions or other power problems, so that we may investigate the issue to better serve you.
Advanced meters can send outage information in addition to recording your energy use. However, we ask that you continue to call Polk-Burnett when you are experiencing a power outage and do not assume that it has already been reported. With both the advanced meters and your help, Polk-Burnett’s line crew can quickly pinpoint the areas affected by the outage and get your power back on as soon as possible.
- First, check your fuses or circuit breakers, making sure that they have not blown or tripped. If your meter is located away from the house, be sure to check the fuses or breakers below the meter. If Polk-Burnett responds to an outage and the trouble is with your electric service, you may be charged for a service call.
- If you are still without power after checking your breakers, it is helpful if you check with your neighbors to see if they have power.
- Report the outage on SmartHub or call Polk-Burnett at 800-421-0283. Phones are answered 24/7. Have your address, account number, or location number ready when calling and let us know if you have seen or heard anything which may have caused the outage, such as sparks, loud noises, or trees on the power lines. This will help our field crews find the problem quickly to get your power restored.
- Keep away from downed power lines and power poles. Do not cut or clear trees and branches near power lines. Report these hazards to Polk-Burnett immediately, 800-421-0283.
The outage restoration process begins at the substation where power is supplied into Polk-Burnett's system. After these repairs have been made, crews work on lines serving the greatest number of members until electricity is restored to all main lines. Then, crews begin repairing lines to individual members.
Our number one goal is restoring power to members as quickly and safely as possible. If you see a Polk-Burnett service crew pass by your location without stopping, it can be for various reasons:
- Crews may be working to first restore power to the main line.
- Crews may be responding to an emergency, such as power lines down on a road.
- Crews may need to go by your location to access the lines and substations that serve your area.
It depends upon the cause and location of the problem. Remember to check and make sure your power is not out because of an electrical problem inside your home, such as a tripped breaker or blown fuse. If your neighbor has electricity and you do not, more than likely, your neighbor's home is on a different line.
Polk-Burnett maintains a critical care list of members with special medical or protective service emergency needs. It’s important to know that following severe storms, damage across the electric distribution system may be extreme, and it may take many hours or even days to complete repairs and restore power to all members. Members who must have electricity should be prepared with an emergency backup plan. The plan could include: making arrangements to move to an alternative location, using a portable generator or installing battery backup on important electrical devices. Please notify Polk-Burnett if you have a critical need for electricity. Call 800-421-0283 or fill out the critical medical need form, have it signed by your medical professional, and return the form to either Polk-Burnett office. Thank you.
Once co-op linemen are dispatched and diagnose the problem, we do our best to provide an estimated restoration time. Whenever possible, we'll post this information on our Facebook page and the online outage map. We also encourage you to sign up for outage texts. For those that sign up for outage notifications, Polk-Burnett will send a text when a power outage is predicted at your location, another text with the estimated time of restoration (if available) and one more text once the power has been restored. Please call Polk-Burnett at 800-421-0283 for the most up-to-date information.
Consider all fallen wires to be energized and dangerous! Make sure children, pets and neighbors stay away from the power line and any object(s) it may be touching. Report the fallen power line to Polk-Burnett immediately, 800-421-0283.
- Organize a survival kit that includes a hard-wired phone, cell phone, battery-powered radio, clock or watch, flashlight, extra batteries, tap or bottled water, nonperishable food, manual can opener, first-aid supplies, medicines, matches or lighter, candles and a fire extinguisher. Store the kit in a designated place so it's easy to find.
- Notify your electric co-op in advance if you require electricity to operate lifesaving medical equipment.
- Protect valuable electronics and appliances with surge suppression devices and uninterrupted power supply (UPS) systems.
- Have a plan for loss of power on your farm or business. Prior to installing a generator, contact your co-op for safety and installation information. 800-421-0283, extension 319.
A lightning strike or downed power line can send a surge of electricity through your home, potentially damaging appliances and electronics. If your lights are blinking or dim, TURN OFF BREAKERS AND UNPLUG ELECTRONICS AND APPLIANCES to avoid damage. Surge protectors can also defend against power spikes and surges. Contact member services, 800-421-0283, ext. 595.
Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. If doors stay closed, food will stay safe for up to: four hours in a refrigerator, 48 hours in a full freezer; 24 hours in a half-full freezer. Throw out meat, eggs, milk and leftovers in the refrigerator after four hours without power.