Safety & Security

Lights out! Know the types and causes of power outages

Why flickers, unplanned, and planned outages occur and what you should do

We’ve all experienced power outages. While they may be frustrating, understanding the types and causes of outages, what to do should one occur, and what PEC is doing to get the lights back on can help put your mind at ease.

Flickers and blinks

If your power flickers without going all the way out — don’t worry. Typically, this occurs because something has happened along the line that trips the breaker on a protective device in order to prevent a prolonged outage. Various events can activate this precaution, such as a lightning strike, high winds whipping the line, or a tree limb bumping or falling onto a line.

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 after a breaker is 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 you notice this occurring at your home, there is nothing you need to do except feel assured that the system is functioning properly. However, sometimes there will still be an issue when the breaker attempts to reclose itself. When this happens, the system will turn off your power for 15-seconds to allow more time for the fault to clear. If the issue remains, the protective device stays open and your power stays off. When this happens, you should report the outage to PEC using the SmartHub mobile app or by calling 888-883-3379. If you have access to the internet (typically the mobile network on your smartphone will still be functional) you can track restoration efforts at

Unplanned outages

Most of us associate unplanned outages with storms, and they are indeed a common cause. However, other weather-related issues can cause them as well, such as wind, ice, extreme temperatures, and fog. Nature-caused outages can also occur on calm, clear days due to things such as animal interference or downed trees. Humans can also inadvertently cause outages, most frequently when an automobile hits a power pole or transformer, or when an incident occurs at a construction site.

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.

Planned outages

Occasionally, we will need to take parts of the system offline in order to perform important upgrades and repairs. While these downtimes may be inconvenient, they are very rare and are ultimately beneficial as they ensure your service remains safe and reliable. 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 your 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.