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Norris Public Power
606 Irving Street
Beatrice, NE 68310
Customer Irrigation Presentation from 1/30/2014 meeting at Saline Center.
See all of the presentations from this meeting here.
WHY DID MY LIGHTS GO OUT?
Bruce Vitosh--General Manager and CEO
It is a picturesque winter morning. It is cold outside but the sun is shining brightly and the winds are calm. You are enjoying a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, while reading the Sunday morning newspaper. In an instance, the lights blink quickly three times and then your lights go out. Why does this happen? What causes the lights to go out when there is no severe weather in the area?
The cause for a power outage may be due to any number of reasons. A raccoon or squirrel may have caused the outage by contacting energized substation equipment or energized conductor along the distribution system. The outage may have been caused by an equipment or hardware failure. Unfortunately, in some cases, vehicles or farm machinery may have damaged a utility pole in an accident.
The electric system is designed to minimize outages as reasonably possible. For example, in substations, the District will install cover-up on energized equipment to minimize the damage that animals may cause by coming into contact with the energized equipment. However, in spite of these efforts, the District will normally incur around 2,500 customer hours of outages annually due to animal contacts.
Sometimes your lights may blink three times and then remain off. Other times, the lights may blink and remain on. Why does this happen? Blinking lights are a result of momentary outages that occur when some type of disturbance exists on the electric system. Electrical systems are susceptible to lightning strikes, animals and tree branches coming into contact with energized power lines, or even an automobile striking a pole. Any of these incidents can cause a fault or a short on a power line. Because electrical systems are built to function safely and efficiently, a device called an oil circuit recloser “OCR” essentially acts as a breaker, functioning much like a breaker in the electrical panel in your home.
The OCR opens to stop the fault and then quickly closes back in, resulting in a blink in power. If the disturbance on the line persists, the OCR will continue to operate or trip two more times and then remain open, resulting in a power outage. This is actually a safety mechanism, protecting the system, the electrical equipment hooked up to the line and cutting off power to the affected section of the line in order to isolate the problem until it can be repaired. Without OCRs, the fault and the resulting outage would affect many more customers, as everyone on that particular substation feeder will have lost power.
For every outage, the District determines a cause and tracks the reason for the outage. This information is analyzed to determine the corrective action that may be necessary to minimize future outages. If the District notices a trend of outages in a certain area or for a certain cause, efforts will be made to find a solution.
It is easy to recognize and acknowledge outages that are caused by major ice storms or after a tornado or significant thunderstorm has passed through the area. Understandably, it is more difficult for customers to comprehend outages caused by other reasons. Excluding major storm events, District customers have power available 99.98% of the time or are without power an average of two hours annually. This does not seem excessive, but it is a disruption to our lives that are so dependent on electricity.
Ensuring that you have electricity available at all times is the District’s responsibility. However, it is inherent in the electric distribution system that outages will occur. Please be assured that the District puts measures in place to minimize outages. However, when outages do occur, the District makes the safe restoration of your electrical power a priority.
The next time you are relaxing on a Sunday morning and your lights blink or your power goes out without any apparent reason, please be assured that the electric system is operating properly. Please notify the District when you are experiencing blinking light problems repeatedly or when you are without power.
Tip of the Week
Replace old, inefficient windows with high-efficiency double- or triple-pane windows. New windows can save you up to 30 percent on heating and cooling costs.
Outage Phone Numbers
If you experience a power outage, please report it to the appropriate number below:
Thayer & Jefferson Counties
Local (402) 768-6515
or (402) 729-3835
Toll Free 1-800-827-8099
Lancaster & Saline Counties
Local (402) 423-3855
or (402) 826-2517
Toll Free 1-800-743-3899
Local (402) 223-4038
Toll Free 1-800-858-4707