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January 2013


Notify SWRE when Outages Occur Hurricane Sandy, which made landfall on the East


coast, caused tremendous devastation and power was lost to many homes and businesses for days and weeks. Although several thousand power crews were brought in from across the country, there was considerable back- lash from the affected areas as the blackout stretched on from days to weeks. Although our area is normally not affected directly by hurricanes and tidal surges, ice storms can be so wide- spread that a lot of infrastructure can be destroyed in a short time. With that in mind, I would like to outline some of the emergency procedures when severe weather oc- curs in our service areas. All members are encouraged to call our toll free number 1 (800) 256-7973 at SWRE anytime there is an outage, but it is especially helpful for members to call when outages are widespread. I have had members tell me that they didn’t want to call because they thought we already knew that the power was out. Your call during outages is important because those series of calls help our dispatchers define the magnitude of the outage and the areas affected. If the storm occurs after regular business hours, our


after-hours dispatcher will call additional SWRE person- nel into the main office to help answer the phones dur- ing widespread outages. We have four incoming lines, so the phone may be busy, but please continue to call. At SWRE you will always get a live person and not a recording. By the same token, we may not have time to visit socially since others will be trying to call, so if pos- sible, please have your meter number, account number, or precise location ready for the dispatcher. I encourage you to write your meter number, which appears on your bill, next to our 800 number in the phone book or wher- ever you post emergency numbers. If you are a member who has multiple accounts, please specify whether the outage involves a residence, well, barn, etc. so that we can send personnel to the correct location. Once we have an idea of the areas affected, we


will send linemen to patrol those areas to assess the damages, and they will notify crews at our warehouse concerning what materials are needed and where the most severe damage is located. Through our emergency response plans we have developed various scenarios to deal with major storms. Our response may involve outside contractors as well as requests for help from other nearby co-ops. As we assess damages, priorities are established to restore power as soon as possible to


by Mike R. Hagy


the areas that have been hit the hardest. Outages due to blown fuses on circuits are repaired quite rapidly, but areas that have lost miles of poles and transformers may take days or weeks to replace. Members should never assume that a downed line is


not energized. Consider all cables and wires as being energized regardless of whether they are electrical, cable television, or telephone. After a storm any one of these wires can be energized if it falls and contacts an energized line whether it’s a few feet or a mile away. If the line is in water, there is even more reason to be cau- tious and to consider it and the water energized. Contact with any line that is or has become energized poses a serious health and safety hazard. Connecting a portable generator to home wiring can


cause safety problems. Ideally, appliances should be plugged directly into a generator, using extension cords if necessary. If you must hook the generator up to the main electric panel, it is very important to disconnect your home from the SWRE electrical system. If not disconnected, power can flow from your generator into the outside utility lines and injure unsuspecting SWRE crews working to restore service. It could even injure a neighbor if power from your generator flows along com- mon lines to another house. When electrical service is restored to your area, take another safety step and disconnect your portable gen- erator before turning on the power to your home. Your generator can be damaged if it is not disconnected. Once power is restored to your area, we will contact


those members who have called in to make sure there are no additional problems. Sometimes a transformer fuse may blow that only affects an individual residence, so call back if it appears that your neighbor’s power has been restored and you are still without power. We certainly hope that major outages do not occur any


time of the year, but winter storms like the Christmas Blizzard of 2009 and the January/February Ice Storm of 2010 are always a possibility. We have no control over the weather, but we will be here to assist you if power outages occur. Thank you for allowing us to serve you. At SWRE our


vision is to provide your electrical needs maintaining safety, service, and satisfaction – one member at a time!


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