During a major storm such as an ice storm, tornado, or high winds with updrafts known as micro bursts, a wide area of our service territory may have power outages. During times like this you may get a busy signal when you call because an unusually large number of people may be trying to call in at once.
At BPU’s 67th and Riverview trouble call center, we immediately staff up to handle the emergency. The trouble board call system and our personnel are able to answer from one thousand to fourteen hundred calls per hour. Better than 95 percent of the time, no more than a few hundred households are without power. Our crews work long, hard hours restoring service, but it is a task that requires a methodical approach to be done safely and efficiently. And every electric utility follows a basic principle when it comes to restoring power.
Priority goes to the lines that will get the largest customer base back in service the quickest. This would constitute our primary distribution “feeder” circuits. When these major distribution lines stop functioning, we are automatically notified of the time and place of the outage, even without any calls from customers.
We repair the primary lines first because doing so will get electricity back to 1,000 customers or more. The second priority is a “lateral” or fused primary feeder line. Individual services are the last to be fixed because they effect individual areas or only one household is affected.
An example of an individual service problem is where the service line from the pole to the house is down due to high winds or falling tree limbs. Just as a physician first works to start a heart beating before fixing the patient's broken leg, it would do no good to start repairing individual services when the lines that feed that service are still without power.
Before calling to report an outage during a severe storm, first look outside to see if power is on in your neighborhood. If the power is on but your house is out, check to see if the service line to your house has been pulled down by a tree limb or blown down.
If it’s necessary to go outside your house to see, be careful of downed lines and stay well away from those that have fallen onto the ground or other structures. Also, check inside your house for blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers before calling BPU’s 24-hour emergency number, 913-573-9522.