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Power Restoration: How We Get Your Lights Back On

The unexpected strikes. Be it an early winter ice storm or a line of tornadoes, unless you work in the weather field, most of these catch you off guard as unexpected events.

At Jackson EMC, we know to expect the unexpected, and our process for dealing with the aftermath of severe storms is like a well-oiled machine. When we go into emergency mode, there’s one thing you can expect for certain: Your cooperative will hit the ground running to get the power back on as quickly as possible. And we’ll do it with the same enthusiasm we had when we broke ground 75 years ago this month to bring electricity to this area for the first time.

Over the years, as our electric distribution system has grown in size and complexity, Jackson EMC has updated its methods of dealing with power outages, eventually employing a computerized mapping system that eliminated the need for handwritten outage tickets. While the computer was faster, it continued to produce paper service order tickets that had to be hand-sorted and matched to a paper map of the distribution system in order to determine where to dispatch crews.

When our Integrated Voice Response (IVR) system was introduced in 1990, it automatically sorted service order tickets, but they still had to be tacked to the wall map.

In 2007, major changes occurred with the installation of our Outage Management System (OMS). Working simultaneously with our other systems – the SCADA monitoring system, Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), Geographical Information System (GIS), Customer Information System (CIS), input from employees in the field, and your outage reports – the OMS efficiently maps outages and tracks their causes. Plus, with automated vehicle location, we now can determine which service truck is closest to the outage to deploy for repairs.

Our goal is to restore power safely and efficiently to the most people in the shortest time possible. To do this, we prioritize areas where power is to be restored first – the substations or main lines that, when repaired, will return service to the most members. From there, we spread out through our service territory, repairing main lines that restore power to entire neighborhoods before returning service to individual customers.

1. With our state-of-the-art Outage Management System, we receive a steady flow of communication regarding outages. We count on you as well to inform us when your power goes out. To report an outage to Jackson EMC, simply a) call your district office – our contact numbers are on page 8; b) use your mobile device or computer to visit our website at jacksonemc.com; or c) use our new smartphone mobile app. Visit mobile.jacksonemc. com to get started.

2. System Control. Your call comes in to our Outage Management System, System Control monitors the situation, and crews are dispatched from district offices. To get real-time information, visit jacksonemc.com to view our outage management map in the Storm Center, where we’ll post an up-to-the-minute status report.

3. Next, line crews head out into the field - night or day, whenever the emergency arises – to begin power restoration efforts. Jackson EMC linemen work long hours to restore your power, braving severe weather and hazardous conditions to get the electric system back up and running.

4. Distribution substations are checked first when major power outages occur. Transmission lines supplying power to the substations might be damaged, or there could be damage sustained at the substation itself. When problems are corrected at the substation, power is usually restored to a large number of people at one time.

5. Main distribution lines are checked next. Extending from substations, these lines supply towns, housing developments and other large groups of customers. When power is restored to main distribution lines, electricity will return to more customers.

6. Supply lines, or tap lines, that carry electric power to utility poles and underground transformers outside houses and businesses are repaired next, bringing power back to those farthest from the substation. Line crews repair the remaining outages by restoring power to the areas with the most members first.

7. Line crews visit individual homes if damage has occurred to the service line between your house and the nearest transformer. These are typically isolated incidents, like the rare occasion when your neighbor’s power is back on but yours is not.

8. Lights are on and power is restored! Getting your power back on is what you expect from us when the unexpected strikes. It’s what we expect of ourselves, and it is our major goal at all times, not just in stormy weather. Our goal is to get the lights back on, and keep them on, year-round.