Our damage assessment and restoration process begins once the storm has passed and it’s safe for our personnel to proceed with gathering information and determining the extent of the damage in the affected areas. Your telephone call reporting an outage is vital because it will be combined with other customers’ calls and computer programs will analyze that information to make a prediction as to what lines or other equipment may be out of service. This helps our line crews find the locations of the outages more quickly.
We then proceed using a system of priorities that have been developed taking into account public safety, community needs and the nature of the electric distribution system.
We first work to correct potentially life-threatening situations, such as downed live wires and public health and safety facilities without power. Crews responding to downed wires may not be able to restore power to your residence. They are sent to make the area safe until repair crews can be dispatched. We work closely with federal, state and local emergency management agencies to constantly reassess our restoration priorities.
We then work “downstream” beginning with any problems with the transmission or large distribution lines and focus on restoring power in a sequence that first considers public health and safety, and gets power to the greatest number of customers as quickly as possible. Just as when it snows it is not possible to plow side streets before the main thoroughfares are cleared, during a power outage it is not possible to correct problems at individual locations before main substations and distribution feeders are restored.
Next, we work to restore secondary distribution lines serving commercial areas, subdivisions and neighborhoods, working our way down through lines that serve smaller groups of customers and finally to individual homes and businesses.
In the event our system is damaged by severe weather, HMP&L repairs equipment which will restore the largest numbers of customers first. Generally, the sequence is as follows:
Downed live wires or potentially life-threatening situations and public health and safety facilities without power.
Transmission lines serving thousands of customers.
Main distribution lines serving large numbers of customers.
Secondary lines serving neighborhoods.
Service lines to individual homes and businesses.
Restoration and Reliability – Working with the Community The fact is many storm related outages in our area are caused by trees or overhanging branches falling onto power lines. For that reason, we conduct regular vegetation management and prune back branches that are too close to the lines. During severe storms, seemingly healthy branches or even entire trees can fall onto power lines. Outages under these conditions cannot always be prevented, even with pruning.
Your help and understanding is a vital element in this ongoing effort and you can assist us by inspecting your trees for hazards and having them professionally maintained every few years. Trees that grow fast and tall should never be planted directly under or near power lines. Whenever trees are involved, we must strike a balance between the public’s desire for uninterrupted electricity service and the benefits of trees.
We work with local jurisdictions, state arborists, public works and forestry personnel to identify measures that can reduce susceptibility of overhead lines to tree damage during severe weather. Such measures include: the removal of non-compatible trees and the application of herbicides to encourage growth by wildflowers, herbs and shrubs. These vegetation management approaches increase clearances between trees and power lines.
Reliability and customer service are our top priorities.
Through our community outreach programs, we are seeking customer input on restoration priorities and other reliability related policy matters. Together, we are working to identify these priorities within the constraints dictated by the design of the electric system.
Additionally, we may take the following steps to help reduce the incidence of outages:
We use lightning arresters to provide a path over which electrical surges can travel to the ground harmlessly.
We use grounded shield wire just above some power lines to shield those lines from lightning strikes.
We install animal guards on our equipment to protect against short circuits caused by animals.
We continually upgrade our facilities to keep pace with growth in our area and to enhance reliability.