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Power Outage Restoration

Sumter EMC's power distribution system is designed, constructed, maintained, and operated to maximize reliability at a reasonable cost.  Despite our efforts, acts of nature and equipment failures do cause power outages.  Most outages affect a small area and have minor causes, and the power can be restored quickly.  Sometimes, though, storms and natural disasters cause widespread damage to the power system, and some extended outages result.  In the event of a major outage, Sumter EMC restores power to the greatest number of members first in order to minimize the outage time for the greatest number of people.  


This a general outline of the power restoration process

  1. Transmission linesIf any high-voltage transmission lines are damaged, these must be repaired first.  While these lines seldom fail, a hurricane, ice storm, or tornado can damage these lines.  Transmission lines must be repaired first - no power can flow to the substations serving our distribution lines if the transmission lines are out of service.  Typically, transmission line outages affect thousands of customers.
  2. SubstationAny substations without power after all transmission lines are back on must be repaired.  Substations are the central point for changing voltage from transmission voltages (46,000 to 230,000 Volts) down to our distribution voltages (12,470 to 24,940 Volts).  If a substation is without power, no customers on the lines emanating from that substation can receive power.
  3. Main distribution lineMain distribution supply lines (circuits) are checked next if the substation is energized.  Crews patrol the circuits from the substation out, repairing problems on the main line and isolating (but not necessarily repairing) damage on small tap-lines.  As the crews reach switches in the main line, sections of the line from the substation out are progressively energized.  This method ensures that the greatest number of people on the circuit receive power as quickly as possible.  Because tap lines and individual services are not repaired at this point, some members may see their neighbor's lights come back on, but not theirs.  If your lights do not come back at the same time as your neighbor's, call Sumter EMC.  In some cases, we may not be aware that your tap line is damaged.
  4. Tap lineAfter the main supply lines (circuits) are back on, the crews begin repairing tap lines off the main lines to restore power to more people.  These tap lines typically serve 3 to 20 customers.
  5. After all tap lines are repaired, individual services are repaired. 

Remember! Members themselves (not the co-op) are responsible for repairing damage to the service installation on a building or meter poles that have broken, fallen, or otherwise been damaged. Sumter EMC can't fix this. Call a licensed electrician, and report your damaged service to Sumter EMC.  

A major outage can affect thousands of members, and we sincerely appreciate members calling whenever they have a power outage. If you call and get a busy signal, please call back. Once you have reported your outage, please avoid calling to check on the progress of restoring your power; other members may still be trying to report their loss of power. Rest assured, employees use every available phone line to receive your outage reports. 

No utility can guarantee uninterruptible service, so if you or a family member depends on a medical life-support device, you are responsible for providing a back-up source of power for the medical device or having a plan to evacuate to a facility that is not affected by the power outage. 

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