When your power goes out without warning, it can be inconvenient and even a little unsettling. We have found that the more you know, the better prepared you'll be for those rare times when an outage occurs. Here are some questions our customers often ask us.
About Different Types of Outages:
Your neighbors may be on a different supply line, or the transformer that serves your residence may not be the same as theirs. Or it may be a problem only in your home, such as a blown fuse or a damaged service wire.
Circuit breakers route power to the different parts of your home. When one room has electricity and another doesn't, it is usually because a circuit breaker has been tripped or a fuse is blown. The first thing you should do is check your electrical panel. You can usually fix the problem yourself by flipping the breaker switch or replacing a fuse. If those are OK, one or more of the service wires to your house may be damaged. In that case, you need to call us at 1-855-RIE-1102.
Most power outages are due to circumstances beyond our control, such as storms, high winds, and flooding. Car accidents and animals can also damage utility poles and transformers. Whatever the cause, we will do our best to restore your power as quickly as possible. On occasion, we will schedule a planned outage so our crews can make repairs or upgrades. In those cases, we try to work during off hours, and you will be notified well in advance.
If you are experiencing dim or flickering lights, please call us at 1-855-RIE-1102. You may need to have your home electrical system checked by a certified electrical contractor. Until the problem is resolved, it’s a good idea to stay safe by unplugging nonessential appliances, or limiting their use.
About How We Restore Power:
The outage map allows you to view how many outages are in and around your area and where our crews are assigned.
Please note that the maps reflects high level area/town restoration estimations, so the times listed represent when the last person in your town/area/village will have power restored. To check on your personal home or businesses specific time of restoration, we recommend you login here to check your personalized outage information.
We will work as quickly as possible to get you back up and running. Estimating the time of power restoration is not an exact science. Work volume, the cause of the outage, and the extent of the damage can all affect our time estimates. Storms can cause widespread damage to our entire distribution system. High-voltage transmission lines are given priority because they supply electricity to the entire system. Next, we focus on substations and local distribution lines that serve multiple locations. From there, individual power service can be restored.
Restoring power to your home is a complex and dangerous job. We may make a repair in one place, only to have damage down the line cause the power to go out again. We may also need to temporarily turn your power off to ensure our crew's safety. If your power continues to go on and off after we have made repairs, please contact us at 1-855-RIE-1102
Our number one priority is safety for both our crews and the community. In a major storm, our first responsibility is to restore electricity to hospitals, police stations, and other vital public services that ensure public safety. We also clear all potential hazards such as downed wires, leaning utility poles, damaged transformers, and blocked roads. From there, we take the following steps.
- First, we assess our overall system and repair the power plants, major lines, and substations that carry power from us to you.
- We prioritize the repairs that will return service to the largest number of customers in the shortest period of time, then move on to the next largest number, and so on, until power is restored to everyone.
- We repair major streets before we focus on smaller streets. That’s because damaged substations, main electric lines, and transformers are located on major arteries that feed power to smaller streets and neighborhoods.
- Finally, we repair any downed or damaged wires between utility poles and your home. It is critical that you stay away from these until we can clear your area for safety.
In the case of widespread damage, such as from a storm, it may be impossible to restore service to everyone at the same time. We must first give priority to public safety facilities. We then make repairs that restore power to the greatest number of customers in the shortest amount of time. Sometimes your circuit may be among the first repaired, and other times it may take longer to get to you. When there is a delay in restoring your power, please know that we are doing everything we can. We thank you for your patience.
Our service crews must first tackle public safety hazards and make repairs that restore power to hospitals or police and fire departments. A truck may have passed your home on the way to one of these high-priority assignments.
Coordination is key to our storm response. Our crews follow specific, targeted guidance to make their response most efficient. There are a variety of reasons you may see crews idling, including:
- They could be awaiting authorization for work that needs to be completed before it is safe for them to re-energize an area, and are on stand-by to be ready as soon as needed.
- They could have just cleared one call, and are awaiting orders for their next.
- Often we stage crews in parking lots near outages as supervisors assess what they need to restore. The supervisor will survey the area and returns to crews with information. There are many places crews seek to stage while safely awaiting further instruction.
Our electrical distribution system does not recognize town lines. The electricity source on which we may be working might not be in your town. Not every town has a supply line in their community. Crews may also be in rights-of-way, off-road areas on sub-transmission lines that feed our distribution systems.
While in some cases it makes sense to install electrical infrastructure underground, it would not be a cost-effective or feasible solution to replace all overhead wires with underground services. Putting electrical infrastructure underground can be extremely costly and is not immune to its own weather-related challenges. Major storms can cause water to get into underground infrastructure that can result in outages. It can take longer to find the cause of an underground outage and repair it. Repairs can also involve digging up streets. Real estate is another concern. Underground infrastructure requires easements for manholes, duct banks, transformer pads, switchgears and other associated equipment.
At the start of a storm or outage, estimated restoration times may be listed as “assessing conditions.” This is because the damage to our infrastructure must be assessed and reported prior to any restoration taking place.
During a storm there can be a significant number of locations that crews must visit and survey. While at each site, crews determine the degree of damage to our infrastructure and identify what repairs and equipment will be required to restore it. Once those details are available, our engineers evaluate the information and prioritize the restoration work, taking into account the locations of critical facilities, like hospitals and shelters, and other community priorities. Safety is a priority, and crews will only restore power when the conditions are safe to do so. During this time, responding to 911 and downed power line calls are also the priority.
About What You Should Do During An Outage:
Try to leave the refrigerator and freezer doors closed during a power outage. Refrigerated food can stay cool for six to nine hours. Frozen food can remain safe for up to 24 hours.
No, we do not supply generators. In certain situations, they can be obtained from your local fire department. Please contact your fire department for more information.
Comparing the performance of utilities after a major storm is not a like-for-like comparison. Many factors impact restoration efforts, including damage, the complexity of repairs, public safety/emergency response needs, etc. A major storm impacts various areas of a region in much different ways. One utility’s service area may not have been as hard hit as another’s. Additionally, infrastructure damage can vary greatly. For example, even in our own service areas, we have seen significant damage to the sub-transmission lines in one area, but mainly tree damage, wires down, and broken cross arms on poles in areas that weren’t hit as hard.
No. We do not reimburse customers for property damage caused by storms, acts of nature, or when we are required to turn off power in the interest of public safety. Please contact your insurance company to see about coverage.