Safety & Security

Know your outages: planned, unplanned and blinks

Learn why the lights go out and what you should do

All outages are not created equal: They vary in duration and cause, as well as how our crews respond to them. If you’ve ever wondered what happened when you came home and found all your clocks flashing on and off, read on — here are a few of the possible ways your power might have been interrupted.

Flickers and blinks

If you’ve ever had your power flicker briefly and then come back on, you’re seeing safety in action. That flicker is the function of a device either at the substation or on the line protecting you from an event that could cause a much longer outage.

When too much electricity comes down the line — whether due to a lightning strike, tree limb falling on the lines, or other conditions — the protective devices trip open, just like the circuit breaker at your house.

With an 8,100-square-mile service territory, a lot can interfere with a line, which is why our protective devices are armed with reclose capacity. This means that after the breaker’s tripped open, it will automatically try to close again after two seconds. If the problem on the line has been cleared (the lightning strike has passed or the tree limb has fallen off) and the amperage and voltage on the line have returned to normal levels, the breaker will remain closed and your power will remain on.

If the line still has a problem, the breaker will open once more, turning off your power for a 15-second interval while reading if the line is safe. If an issue remains, the protective device stays open and your power stays off. Time to report it — use the SmartHub app or call 888-883-3379 and then head over to to keep track of restoration efforts.

Planned outages

With our service area growing at a record pace, we periodically need to take certain sections of our system offline to safely perform upgrades and repairs. These outages are usually planned in advance, and affected members are notified via letter and email (if they’ve shared an email address with us).

If you’re notified of a planned outage in your area, plan ahead by filling your refrigerator and freezer with bottles and bags of water and setting aside some no-cook snacks and meals. Save all work on desktop computers and unplug expensive electronics. Then sit back and relax — you’ve got upgraded, more reliable power headed your way.

Pro tip: If you or someone in your household relies on life-sustaining electric equipment, make sure to enroll in our Medical Necessity Program.

Unplanned outages

Electrical storms are the most common outage-causing culprit, but wind, ice and fog can knock out power, too. In fact, outages can even occur on perfectly windless, sunny days due to animal interference, auto accidents and more.

Make sure you’re prepared for outages no matter the cause, duration or season. Build your emergency kit and brush up on our outage preparedness tips.

Remember to report all outages via Smarthub or by calling 888-883-3379. Learn more about storm preparedness, tips and how we work to reduce outages at our outage center.