Power Restoration (1/14/22)
When large weather events cause widespread outages, Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative has a coordinated system in place to respond. The cooperative is ready to put the process in motion if Sunday’s forecasted snow brings power outages.
For SVEC members, the procedure begins by reporting outages. From there, a 24-hour Operations Center routes crews to find the source of an issue, keeping safety at the forefront of restoration efforts.
During these large-scale events, a common set of questions often arise.
In what order does SVEC seek to restore service?
Restoration efforts seek to get the most members back on as possible, first determining if a problem is at a substation level and then working as far down line as necessary to capture everyone affected. An issue could be a considerable distance from someone’s house, which might explain why a member sees an SVEC bucket drive by but not stop.
“There’s no reason to start at an individual home’s tap line, all the way on the end, get a tree off the line, if we can’t energize the line anyway,” SVEC Systems Operator Taylor Fulk says. “We’ve got to start at the source and work our way out, bringing power up along with it.”
When is the estimated time for restoration?
Given the number of outages crews could be working during a large-scale event, it is difficult to provide each member with an estimate for restoration. Typically, when these times are available, the online outage map will indicate an estimate. During widespread occasions, these times might not be immediately available. Crews will work as quickly and safely as possible.
“Estimated times change. We can’t give an estimated time without finding the cause and knowing what it takes to fix it,” Fulk says. “We’ll see what we have. Considering accessibility to poles and lines, snow can make it a problem for us to repair outages, but we do our best.”
How – and why – should members report each outage?
It’s important for SVEC to know about every outage situation, to verify the scope of the issue. Members should report outages online in the Outage Center of svec.coop, over the MySVEC app or by calling 1-800-234-7832.
“Never assume your neighbor reported your outage for you,” Fulk says. “All information is good information, and we need all that information. That could potentially help us shrink an outage time and get members back on quicker.”
Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative assures members it is well prepared for this weekend’s forecasted snow because storm preparation is a year-round effort.
“We prepare for a storm daily. Capital projects, all the maintenance, all the right-of-way cutting, it’s too late to prepare now. Preparation is year round,” Vice President of Operations Tony Dean says. “We have a dedicated group of employees ready to serve our members, and not only when storms come.”
From available personnel to necessary equipment, SVEC is ready for potential outages caused by the weather event predicted on Sunday. Arrangements have been made to have contractor crews stationed throughout SVEC’s service territory to assist co-op personnel. Additionally, should the situation warrant later in the process, SVEC’s statewide association will coordinate the arrival of crews from outside of the Valley or Virginia as part of a mutual aid agreement among cooperatives.
Last week, SVEC sent 24 lineworkers to help restore power to nearby Rappahannock and Central Virginia electric cooperatives, which were hit hard by a heavy, wet snow.
“Everyone in the co-op family understands how important it is for people to turn the light switch on and for electricity to be available. It’s such an essential part of our everyday lives that can be taken for granted,” Dean says.
SVEC’s warehouses at each of five offices – Luray, Mount Jackson, Rockingham, Staunton and Winchester – are well stocked with equipment. Key components to have readily available in inventory ahead of a major storm include cross arms, poles, wire and transformers, Dean says.
“Due to COVID, we’ve actually increased the quantities we have on hand because of lead time with delivery,” he says. “We’ve gone through everything and do not have any areas of concern.”
General Preparedness (1/12/22)
Forecasts currently call for a significant accumulation of snow. SVEC crews and its contractors are prepared to respond to outages, should they occur. The cooperative remains in contact with weather monitoring services for the latest projections and expected precipitation type.
“There is no predicting where outages will occur. The severity of winter storm outages can largely be attributed to the type of precipitation and the specific geographical spot it falls. Dry snow doesn’t harm us as much as heavy, wet snow that can bring down limbs in more densely wooded areas,” SVEC President and CEO Greg Rogers says. “The safest precaution our members can take is to be prepared for an outage, no matter where they live. There is no harm in over preparation.”
Now is the time for members to consider the following for outage preparation:
- Download SVEC’s app, MySVEC, to report your outage and manage your account;
- Fully charge devices leading up to precipitation;
- Prepare a home outage kit, to include flashlights, extra batteries, blankets, canned or packaged foods and a first-aid kit;
- Ensure any alternative heating sources have enough supply, such as wood for wood stoves; and
- Make arrangements for alternative housing, if necessary, especially if you are on life-sustaining equipment that requires electricity.