AEP: What to Do When the Lights Go Out

Stay Safe | Heat Advisory from the National Weather Service
July 18, 2013
Found cat July 29
July 29, 2013

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Should I call AEP Ohio?
In the immediate aftermath of a major storm, we ask that you call only to report safety hazards such as downed power lines or equipment that is sparking. During major storms, our telephone lines can become overloaded with customer calls. In these situations, we are aware of major damage to long-distance transmission lines and distribution circuits.

Why can’t I talk directly with a customer services representative?
During major outages, it is unlikely that you will speak directly with a center representative, due to the high volume of calls associated with a major outage. However, our telephone technologies will allow you to leave information about your outage. In addition, our communications systems give priority to outage calls dealing with safety concerns — such as downed power lines – so that they receive service as quickly as possible.

Why can’t an agent tell me when my power will be restored?
It is impossible to accurately predict restorations of specific circuits serving particular residences because of the many challenges that restoration workers face. AEP Ohio provides updates approximately every four hours to the local news media so that they can report the status of the overall restoration effort.This information is included on the home page of this site during major storms.

What is my best source of information on the restoration effort?
AEP Ohio works hard to update the local news media on the overall progress of restoration efforts affecting the area. AEP Ohio issues informational releases to the news media regarding restoration progress at least three times a day during major power outages. Listening to the radio, or checking this web site via battery-operated web devices are the best ways for you to be informed of storm restoration progress. Be sure to have an emergency kit, equipped with a battery-operated radio and fresh batteries, so you’re ready in case of a major power outage. Read more information about emergency kits.

What if I only have electricity in one part of my house?
You could have tripped a circuit breaker, or there could be a blown fuse or a broken connector or wire at one of the service leads to your house. Sometimes damage to these leads leaves only the 120-volt outlets (or some of them) working. In this case, larger appliances that need 240-volt service – such as water heaters, air conditioners and ovens – may be inoperable until repairs are made. It is safe to use the outlets you have available, while you check with an electrician. However, if part of your lights are extremely bright or extremely dim, you should avoid using outlets connected to these circuits to avoid potential damage to equipment. If it is a problem with a service lead to your home, AEP Ohio crews will repair the wires when they arrive to restore service.

Why do I sometimes experience brief outages that call for resetting of appliances?
These outages occur when protective devices, called reclosers, operate. When a recloser detects an object interfering with a line, they de-energize the line briefly to determine if the interference is prolonged or if it is simply a momentary problem. If the recloser determines that the interference was temporary, the line will re-energize. If the interference is detected to be prolonged, the recloser will de-energize the line.

Why would AEP Ohio trucks pass by my house without repairing anything?
This can happen because work needs to be done at a nearby location before service can be restored to you and your neighbors.

Why can my home be the only one on the block without power?
Fuses or circuit breakers in your home could have tripped and halted power. Tree limbs could have fallen on the line serving your home. Fuses on the transformer that serves your home may have tripped or could be damaged, and the primary line feeding the transformer could be damaged.

What does AEP Ohio do to manage a major storm?
AEP Ohio operations personnel continually monitor national and local weather reports so they are prepared for impending storms. This allows AEP Ohio to work on staffing for restoration efforts even before the storm hits.

During major storm efforts, customer service centers operate in “storm mode,” using extra telephone lines and bringing in additional representatives to serve customers better. They also employ advanced telephone technologies to handle the unusually large volume of customer calls. This technology allows customers to report an outage without speaking to a representative and helps us provide status updates regarding the restoration effort.

Why can’t an agent tell me when my power will be restored?
It is impossible to accurately predict restorations of specific circuits serving particular residences because of the many challenges that restoration workers face. AEP Ohio provides updates approximately every four hours to the local news media so that they can report the status of the overall restoration effort. This information is included on the home page of this site during major storms.

What is my best source of information on the restoration effort?
AEP Ohio works hard to update the local news media on the overall progress of restoration efforts affecting the area. AEP Ohio issues informational releases to the news media regarding restoration progress at least three times a day during major power outages. Listening to the radio, or checking this web site via battery-operated web devices are the best ways for you to be informed of storm restoration progress. Be sure to have an emergency kit, equipped with a battery-operated radio and fresh batteries, so you’re ready in case of a major power outage.

How does AEP Ohio decide which customers to restore first?
AEP Ohio works to restore power using the swiftest and most humane schedule possible. As a result, efforts are staged so that power will initially be restored to hospitals, emergency response agencies, essential AEP Ohio facilities, other public utilities and public shelters. Residential customers are given priority over business and industrial customers and efforts are first targeted toward larger population centers. Then, once these larger areas are mostly restored, most work crews move on to other large affected areas, while some personnel remain behind to complete the critical parts of the restoration.

How does AEP Ohio mobilize crews during major outages?
During a major storm, AEP Ohio calls in workers from portions of American Electric Power’s 11-state energy delivery territory to assist local employees. AEP Ohio also enlists the help of personnel from other electric companies through mutual assistance agreements as well as contract workers.

American Electric Power workers have frequently been honored with the Edison Electric Institute’s Emergency Assistance Award for their role in power restoration efforts following hurricanes, ice storms, and other natural disasters. In 2008, American Electric Power workers were honored with the industry’s top award for assisting other utilities.

How does AEP Ohio handle tree damage?
AEP Ohio contractors conduct tree trimming throughout the year to keep power lines free of limbs and debris. Following a storm, these contractors must remove fallen trees and limbs from electrical equipment that are preventing service restoration. This forestry work is a major component of the restoration effort. However, AEP Ohio contractors do not remove storm debris and move the debris only if this is necessary to facilitate the restoration effort.

Do not attempt to remove tree limbs or debris yourself if it is within 10 feet of a power line and stay completely away from any downed power line or sparking equipment. If you notice downed lines or sparking equipment, please call us at the number on your electric bill as soon as possible.

For tree removal, you will need to call a landscape or tree contractor.

Why would AEP Ohio trucks pass by my house without repairing anything?
This can happen because work needs to be done at a nearby location before service can be restored to you and your neighbors.

Take practical steps to keep you and your loved ones safe during a power outage.

 

  • Unplug major appliances to protect them from a power surge when power comes back on.
  • Leave a light turned on so you know when power is restored.
  • Refuel heaters, lamps, and generators outside, and stay away from any flames or sparks. Wipe up fuel spills immediately.
  • Contact us if you’re using a generator — this protects you and our line workers as they work to restore power. Be safe with backup generators.
  • Never operate lanterns, heaters, or fuel-fired stoves without proper ventilation.
  • Never burn charcoal indoors. It releases poisonous carbon monoxide.
  • Avoid downed power lines or sparking equipment.
  • Never remove debris that’s within 10 feet of a power line.
  • Prevent children from carrying candles or oil lamps.

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