Handling a power outage is never an easy task, but knowing how to navigate such a situation can make the process run smoothly and become a less stressful time for all.
Kankakee Valley (KV) REMC is equipped with an experienced team to help its member-consumers in these circumstances and has walked through what to do and how to best be prepared for whenever an outage strikes.
The main aspect to note, according to Energy Services Specialist Darrell Marks, is that every outage is different, so each response is going to depend on the situation at hand.
“For instance, an after-hours outage is different from one happening on the clock. Instead of calling into the office during normal business hours, for an after-hours call, the member-consumer would call into our after-hours call center. That call center operator or worker would document the call, and then call out the linemen and the crew,” said Marks.
In addition to the time of day, the amount of outages is also something that needs to be considered. Knowing this will determine exactly where the linemen will need to go and how many will need to be on site.
“If it's an outage affecting just one or two members, the line-crew would look at the map and determine where it’s at. If it is affecting several members and determined it’s a line outage, they may have to respond to a different area,” said Marks.
Marks has seen both sides of the job, working both as a lineman and at the dispatch center for KV REMC. This experience has allowed him to see everything come full circle. In turn, he feels even better equipped when working with member-consumers at any stage during an outage.
“Even though each situation is different, when an outage occurs, I have a general idea of what might be going on, but you really don't know the true scope of the outage until you actually get on site,” he said.
KV REMC has also provided us with some of the most frequently asked questions, as well as some advice on how to work through each step of the process. The questions are below as follows.
1. Who do I call?
When sighting an outage, the first step should be to call your local customer service office at 800-552-2622 or 219-733-2511. They will work as quickly as possible to make sure power is restored as soon as possible.
2. Why are non-local utility vehicles working in the area?
Should a major outage occur, other local utility companies could be assisting with the outage. This allows for extra help to lessen the time you could be left without power.
3. Can I use a portable generator if I have one?
Portable generators are not recommended to be connected to any utility power lines or house wiring unless properly installed by an electrician. Should one not be installed properly, it can result in serious damage to anyone who makes contact with the misconstrued wiring.
4. If I’m using a portable generator, what safety precautions should I take?
The most important step is to read all instructions carefully to make sure all factors are considered before using. Additionally, be sure to never run a generator indoors, plug appliances directly into the generator while staying below the recommended wattage, and make sure all cords are in good condition. Avoid connecting the generator to a home’s main fuse box or circuit panel, and only use the generator when absolutely necessary.
5. What should I do if I see a downed line?
In addition to keeping a distance from the downed line, contact KV REMC immediately so a lineman can come inspect the situation.
6. Why did a repair vehicle pass by my house without stopping?
There are a variety of reasons as to why this may be the case. For instance, the vehicle may be on its way to a site needing immediate assistance. Other possibilities include needing to inspect equipment, returning to the warehouse for additional supplies, or looking to inspect the area with the most outages first.
7. Will I be compensated for my power being out?
As there are many factors to consider outside of KV REMC’s control, a constant supply of electricity cannot always be guaranteed. For this reason, KV REMC is unable to compensate for power outages. However, during an outage, no electricity is being used, so the meter will not register any usage that you could be charged for.
8. What if I have life sustaining medical equipment?
The best step to take in this situation would be to develop a plan ahead of time on what to do in the case of an outage. This could include a backup power supply, moving for the time being to a place that can provide electricity, or contacting emergency medical services.
9. What should I do if I have a critical care patient living in my home?
It is also best to establish a plan ahead of time as well when a critical care patient is at home during an outage. The same methods listed above in question eight would also be ideal options when a critical care patient’s life comes into play, no matter the situation.
For more information on how Kankakee Valley REMC works to handle outages, visit the page here.