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Co-op Outage Maps Keep You Informed

jeffrey hochstrasser | iStock.com

Electric cooperatives across the country use a powerful tool to aid power restoration and keep you informed during an outage. Outage maps are just what they sound like: a graphical representation of an outage displayed on a map of your electric co-op’s service area.

The typical map will show where the outage is and, depending on the system’s capability, include information such as the number of members without power, locations of crews (or their estimated time of arrival) and expected time of restoration.

Behind the map is a sophisticated system that provides the data needed to populate the graphic. This technology is considered part of the smart grid because it improves control, reduces outage length, increases reliability and provides information to employees, co-op members and the public.

Maintaining an accurate outage map starts with devices on the co-op’s lines that can report their status to the cooperative, meaning they can indicate whether there is power at a meter. This data flows back over power or fiber-optic lines to a computer at the co-op. There it’s analyzed, and the results are presented to the engineering and operations team for action.

Here’s an example: Something causes a fault in the lines that blows a fuse or trips a circuit breaker. The cause could be a gust of wind dropping a branch on a line, a furry critter deciding the brush around the transformer looks like dinner or a car hitting a pole.

The piece of equipment nearest the fault signals that it can’t see anything down the line—or that it has “tripped.” Software then determines the extent of the outage, collecting information from other devices to determine where the flow of power stops. Once it has completed its detective work, the system generates a map showing the extent of the outage. (Of course, your co-op’s employees can operate the program rather than waiting for the computer.)

Because of the power of the information contained in these maps, co-ops are making them available online so members can quickly check if their co-op knows their power is out and when it’s expected to be restore—rather than waiting in a phone queue to learn about their power outage from a member service representative.

Outage maps are a great example of how co-ops work to keep members informed about their service.


Posted: 3/16/2022 10:12:52 AM
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