On the Line – “Outages”
By Mike Olberding, Operations Manager
May was a very stormy and wet month for most of us. Places in and around Salina and Bennington had over 9” of rain for the month. As we all know, when storms roll through, power outages are possible, and sometimes the outages last longer than anticipated.
Some of the outages that DSO members experienced during these recent storms were long ones. In late May, DSO was without power to its I-135 substation north and west of Salina, the Bennington metering point, and the Minneapolis metering point. These areas are all fed from the same Evergy 34.5 kV transmission line. The outages were caused by high wind that took out Evergy’s poles in several stretches of the transmission line that feeds these substations; there was nothing DSO linemen could do to help restore power. Evergy had a hard time getting its crews to fix the downed lines, as the roads were extremely muddy and lightning storms were still active. In the end, it took Evergy a lot longer than normal to bring the power back on.
As power was being restored, we remained in constant communication with Evergy so we could pass along updates to our members. We work hard to get the information out to our members. During outages, we communicate outage information to our members through an outage map on our website, as well as postings on Facebook and Twitter. On the occasion when we need to turn power off for safety reasons, such as a house move where we need to raise power lines over a road, we attempt a phone call to notify our members ahead of time. For reasons like this, it is important that we have a good phone number so we can reach you. Soon, we are planning to add text messaging to our contact options, so be watching your SmartHub online account for sign-up information.
If your meter sends out a signal that it is losing power, and it is between 6 AM and 4:30 PM, then you will likely get a call from us to let you know we are seeing an outage and plan to investigate/restore power. If the outage comes through after-hours (before 10 PM), then the answering service will contact you to see if the outage is something you want us to address right away or if it is something that can wait until regular business hours. In many cases, these outages are sign lights, water wells, or vacant farmsteads, which usually can wait until normal business hours. If the outage comes in overnight (after 10 PM), then the answering service will not call or send a lineman out unless you call to inform us that the power is out. In all cases, please do not assume we know your power is out; let us know.
If your power does go out, you should always check your breakers, and then call DSO. A lot of the time, when a member loses power, they let us know and then they jump in a vehicle and head to town to eat or run errands. While we try to get these types of outages back on before the member gets home, we prefer to have someone home when we are there. Occasionally, a lineman will find the problem to be on the member’s side of the meter, and the member is not home. In such cases, the lineman may have to leave the power off until the member calls back in and we can explain the issue.
Finally, as mentioned earlier, we need to have your most current contact information (phone numbers and email addresses) on file. It will save both of us a lot of time and frustration down the road.