Sumter EMC strives to keep our members informed and connected in the event of a major power outage. During and after severe weather events, this information section will be updated with current information about the storm and Sumter EMC's response.
Call 1-800-342-6978 to report any downed power lines or power outages. Downed power lines can still be energized and may be very dangerous. If you see a downed power line or other potential hazard associated power lines, please call our office immediately.
Preparing for Power Outages
Severe weather can strike at any time and has the potential to cause an extended power outage. Power outages can also occur on calm days due to events such as unexpected equipment failure or animal-related damage. Sumter EMC encourages you to take the following steps to make sure your home and family are always prepared for power outages, especially extended outages due to severe weather events such as ice storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods:
- Make sure Sumter EMC has your correct telephone number and address.
- Place Sumter EMC's phone number, 1-800-342-6978, and your Sumter EMC account number in a prominent place.
- Keep batteries, flashlights, a first-aid kit, and a battery-powered radio in your home.
- Keep a supply of canned or dry food on hand along with a manual can opener.
- Maintain an emergency supply of bottled drinking water. (1 gallon per person per day)
- 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.
- During a power outage and after checking your circuit breakers, call Sumter EMC to report your outage.
- Calls should be limited during major outages; after reporting your outage to Sumter EMC please call again only if your neighbor's power comes on and your service has not been restored.
- Stay away from areas where Sumter EMC crews are working. They can restore power faster if they are not interrupted. Before restoring power, Sumter EMC crews must inspect the lines to isolate damage, so don't be alarmed if they pass your home more than one time.
- Listen to your battery-powered radio or television for information about outage locations and expected duration.
- Never remove or trim debris from power lines, even if you think they are not energized. Sumter EMC's distribution power lines carry up to 14,000 volts of energy; a normal 120 volt household circuit can kill a human.
- Unplug electronic equipment and turn off electric heating systems and electric water heaters to prevent overloading the distribution system upon restart. Once the power has been restored for a few minutes, you can safely turn everything back on without a problem.
Weather and Forecasts
Current Conditions, Forecasts, and Severe Weather Predictions
When severe weather is approaching, Sumter EMC makes sure sufficient manpower, equipment and materials are available to effectively restore power. The following information services may also be useful in your personal preparation for severe weather events:
Weather.gov - Current conditions, forecasts, and warnings
National Hurricane Center - Advisories, Watches, Warnings, Wind Speeds and Forecast Tracks
National Weather Service River Levels and Flood Projections
National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center
National Weather Service Total Ice Forecast - Southeast (with SPIA Sperry-Piltz Ice Accumulation Index)
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.
Power restoration process
- If 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.
- Any 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.
- Main 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.
- After 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.
- 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.
Right of Way Maintenance
Tree limbs falling on electric power lines are the number one cause of power outages. Sumter EMC's top priority is to provide you with reliable, affordable, uninterrupted electric power. The power line right-of-way extends 20 feet from either side of the lines. Help reduce the number of power outages in your neighborhood by planting trees and shrubs far enough beyond the 20-foot minimum to allow them to grow to maturity without obstructing the power line right-of-way. When we cannot avoid cutting and trimming mature trees and shrubs, we sincerely appreciate your cooperation and support of our efforts to maintain a safe, clear power line right-of-way.
For additional information, please read Tree and Utlity Conflicts to learn more about the process of selecting the appropriate type of trees for your property.
Contact Wendell Nealey at 800-342-6978 or our Customer Service Department at firstname.lastname@example.org if you (or a contractor) will be removing trees in close proximity to power lines. Sumter EMC will provide assistance if necessary to prevent damage to power facilities and possible safety hazards associated with tree removal along the power line right-of-way.