While they both have degrees of inconvenience, power outages and blinking lights are not one and the same. Because of this, it’s important for SVEC and members to treat them separately.
Many times, having the power blink is better than the alternative – having it go out completely. Blinks are sometimes caused by devices designed to protect the electrical system. These devices are called “reclosers,” which essentially act like the circuit breakers in your home, with one major difference. They reset themselves after “breaking” the circuit. The intent is that a tree touching the line, or other problem, will cause the recloser to open. The device will reset itself, and power will once again flow down the line.
An example of a blink that would not be recloser-related would be if the member has overhead service and connections have come loose over time. In this case, they could see momentary interruptions whenever the winds get up enough to sway their service wire.
If we didn’t have equipment that allowed faults time to clear, members’ power would go out essentially every time there was a fault on the line. SVEC does everything it can to address situations that could cause blinks.
If you have blinking lights sporadically, there is probably nothing to worry about, and it’s not worth reporting. If you see them regularly, please contact Member Services at 1-800-234-7832 and report the issue so that it can be further investigated. It’s subjective, of course, on what someone determines as sporadic versus regular.
Unless the outage is sustained, the event should not be reported as an outage. SVEC consistently receives outage tickets when it was merely a blink that was seen by the member. That can influence our overall operations, if crews are assigned to situations that don’t warrant an outage response.
There are a few ways we respond to these issues. If we can tie the blinks to data pulled from our system, the blinks can likely be explained in short order, and the member will be contacted and informed. If we can’t explain the blinks from that approach, a crew can be dispatched to the location to check connections and verify our equipment is in proper working order. In these cases, we may find a loose connection at the transformer, the meter base, etc., and the issue is resolved.
We may go to the location and find that the problem is on the members’ side and advise them to contact an electrician (it may be a breaker issue, etc.) since we do not work past the meter base. In more extreme cases, if we have exhaustively patrolled the line and found nothing and the blinks keep happening, we can install fault indicators in the area to try to narrow down the culprit on the line.