The "good" power outages

The "good" power outages

At times, power outages may seem like the bane of an electric cooperative. They can happen unexpectedly, causing inconvenience and a disruption to daily life. Cass County Electric’s line crews and power control technicians work to get power restored safely and as quickly as possible when outages happen. After all, no one likes being literally left in the dark. Like many things in modern life, power outages may seem like a nuisance on the surface, but sometimes they can actually be beneficial for both the co-op and its members.

While unplanned outages result in a flurry of activity to get the power back on, some power outages are planned in advance and have an upside for all involved. The electric utility grid is essentially a large mechanical system. Like all mechanical systems, the grid requires regular maintenance to ensure quality performance and to accommodate growth. Many times, when equipment needs to be upgraded or repaired, it requires the power to be shut off.

Line workSafety is the main reason for cutting off the juice. A planned outage gives lineworkers a chance to work on equipment that might otherwise be hot, or flowing with electricity, at a greatly decreased risk. Interestingly enough, a planned outage for an equipment upgrade or repair usually serves to reduce the chance of an unplanned outage in the future. When CCEC employees can control the time and place that the power goes out, the restoration process is typically easier.

In areas experiencing high population growth, outages are commonly scheduled in order for CCEC to extend lines for new developments. Maintenance tasks, like replacing aging infrastructure and upgrading system capacity, often require scheduled outages too. These projects allow CCEC to serve reliable power to an increasing amount of people.

CCEC’s design and construction supervisors, who are responsible for scheduling necessary outages, work to factor in weather conditions and time of day when deciding when work will be conducted. When commercial accounts are to be affected by planned outages, CCEC works directly with businesses to find the best time to cut off power and complete the job. Sometimes, this means crews will work after normal hours or on weekends to avoid interrupting business.

CCEC uses text messages, emails, and phone calls to alert members of upcoming outages and typically sends out notification two days prior to the scheduled work, unless safety or an imminent large outage call for immediate action. The messages contain the date, time, and estimated duration of the planned outage. These notifications are one reason to keep your contact information up-to-date on your account.