A Step-by-Step Look at Power Restoration

Whenever the electricity goes out, we’ve come to expect service will be restored within a few hours at most. But when a major ice storm or tornadoes cause widespread damage, longer outages cannot be helped. Line crews work long, hard hours restoring service, but it’s a task that needs to be done methodically to be done safely.

Every co-op follows a basic principle when it comes to restoring power: priority goes to the lines that will get the most people back in service the quickest. This usually begins with main lines and continues out to tap lines and then to individual service lines.



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The People Behind Your Power


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Restoring power during widespread outages involves much more than flipping a switch or removing a fallen tree off a line. At each stage of the restoration process, C&L Electric crews work to restore power safely to the greatest number of our members in the shortest time possible.

Remember to report an outage, even if you think a neighbor already has. This helps co-op employees isolate and repair the problem. Just call 855-881-8093. 

Here are the steps we take when restoring power:

1. High-voltage Transmission Lines

Transmission towers and cables that supply power to transmission substations (and thousands of members) rarely fail. When damaged, though, these facilities must be repaired before other parts of the system can operate.

2. Distribution Substation

C&L Electric has 21 substations, each serving up to thousands of members. When a major outage occurs, line crews inspect the substation to determine if problems stem from transmission lines feeding into the substation or the substation itself or an issue down the line.

3. Main Distribution Lines

If the problem cannot be isolated at a distribution substation, distribution lines are checked. These lines carry power to large groups of members in communities or housing developments. When power is restored at this stage, all members served by this supply line could see the lights come on, as long as there is no problem farther down the line.

4. Tap Lines

If an outage persists, supply lines, also called tap lines, are inspected. These lines deliver power to transformers, either mounted on poles or placed on pads for underground service, outside businesses, schools and homes.

5. Individual Homes

If a home remains without power, the service line between a transformer and the home may need to be repaired. This can explain why you have no power when your neighbor does. This illustrates why it is important for you always to report an outage.

Sometimes an outage is caused by a problem with the service installation on your home, business, or other building. C&L Electric can’t fix anything beyond our equipment, so a licensed electrician is needed in those cases.


A big storm has just hit the countryside! What happens next?

Finally, all power is restored to the area.

Please note: The cooperative line crew may need to come out in the following days and weeks to make long-term repairs and rebuild sections of line that were severely damaged by the storm. This might mean you will find blinking clocks when you get home from work or be notified of planned short-term power outages. It might also mean tree-trimming crews will be in the area to make sure rights-of-way are clear of overhanging tree branches. Wind and ice storms can topple trees into power lines which account for many of the outages in wooded areas. When you see the orange diamond-shaped “Utility Work Ahead” or similar warning signs along the road, be sure to slow down and give the line crews plenty of room. They might just be working on the power line that powers your home. If you ever have questions about outages and repairs, be sure to call your local electric cooperative office.