Storm preparation and plan of action already in place
With extreme winter weather such as ice and freezing rain looking increasingly possible for our area, Laurens Electric Cooperative is urging its members to make preparations now in case of widespread and prolonged power outages.
Before a storm ever hits, Laurens Electric Cooperative plans how to prevent and correct any resulting outages.
However, ice on trees and power lines can equal a worst-case scenario, and depending upon the severity of the storm, members should be prepared for the possibility that power could be unavailable for days in some situations.
The co-op has prepared for the possibility of worsening weather conditions with extra supplies and crews on stand-by and has emergency call-center capabilities. In case of widespread outages, Laurens Electric can call on other co-ops to send emergency crews to help in restoration.
Currently, the co-op has 100 additional personnel on stand-by, from contract and right-of-way crews to linemen from cooperatives in Alabama and Louisiana.
Staff and line crews will be on-hand and on-call 24 hours a day, working to restore any outages.
To report a power outage or damaged equipment, members should call 1-866-9RESTORE.
Laurens Electric would like to remind the public in the event of downed power lines to stay away and call emergency officials as well as the cooperative at 1-800-942-3141.
Before the storm, members should ensure their phone numbers are updated, since this is how our system recognizes their location during an outage. Call 1-800-942-3141 to update an account.
If you or a family member requires life support equipment such as a respirator, make sure Laurens Electric Cooperative knows about these needs and have a backup source of power ready if the primary source of power does go out.
Keep your backup generator in good condition and test it periodically. If your power goes out, disconnect appliances and turn off lights. When power is restored, multiple appliances coming on at once could cause a power surge that could damage your equipment.
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Laurens Electric Cooperative serves 61,000 member-owners in Laurens, Greenville, Spartanburg, Anderson, Newberry, Union, and Abbeville counties. Since 1939, the co-op has been dedicated to being the provider of choice for energy and related services in the Upstate.
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How we restore service after major outages
The goal is to get the power back on ASAP for the greatest number of members.
Widespread damage from a severe storm may make it impossible to accurately predict when power will be restored – especially in the early phases, while the extent of damage is being assessed.
What crews encounter when they arrive at the actual restoration sites is always different. For example, a distribution line serving a local area may have multiple damage locations, all of which must be found and repaired.
On-going and dangerous weather conditions, uneven or difficult terrain, the need for various repair supplies, and a number of other factors make it difficult to predict power restoration times. And requiring minute-by-minute updates and estimates would divert crews in the field from their primary focus – restoring power to members.
The main goal is to safely restore power to the greatest number of customers in the shortest time possible.
Keep in mind that if there is damage to power plants, switchyards or transmission lines, those facilities must be repaired by our power supplier before we can restore your service. Transmission lines seldom fail, but they can be damaged by ice storms. Tens of thousands of people could be served by a single high-voltage transmission line.
When those facilities are working, any problems in the co-op’s electric distribution system can be corrected. Three primary areas of our system must be addressed.
1 — Substations are repaired first. Distribution substations each serve thousands of members. When a major outage occurs, the local distribution substations are checked first. If the problem can be corrected at the substation level, power may be restored to a large number of people.
2 — Distribution lines are repaired. Main distribution supply lines are checked next if the problem cannot be isolated at the substation. These supply lines carry electricity away from the substation to a group of members, such as a subdivision. When power is restored at this stage, all members served by this supply line could see the lights come on, if there is no problem farther down the line.
3 — Individual services are restored. The final supply lines, called service lines, carry power from the transformer on utility poles or underground transformers outside houses or other buildings. Line crews fix the remaining outages based on restoring service to the greatest number of members.
Sometimes, damage will occur on the service line between your house and the transformer on the nearby pole. This may explain why you have no power when your neighbor does. The co-op needs to know you have an outage here, so a service crew can repair it.
If there is damage to the equipment where the service drop enters your home, you may need to get an electrician to repair it before the co-op can safely restore your service. The weatherhead, where service lines enter the conduit leading to your home’s electric meter, is the responsibility of the homeowner. So are the conduit and the meter base. The co-op can replace or repair damaged meters or service lines, but if you see damage to your home’s weatherhead, conduit or meter base, contact an electrician immediately to get repairs started.