Storm Safety

With forecasts continuing to predict a winter storm, Marlboro Electric Cooperative reminds its members of how the co-op restores service when widespread outages occur.

Marlboro Electric’s Vice President of Engineering & Operations Troy Coyer says the co-op follows a plan designed to get the lights back on ASAP for the greatest number of members. He notes that if generating plants or transmission lines have been knocked out, the co-op’s power providers must repair those facilities to get power flowing again.

The co-op repairs its distribution system in three basic steps:

1 -- Substations. Co-op substations take power off transmission lines for distribution around the service area. Substation damage must be repaired before co-op lines that send electricity out of the substation will work.

2 -- Distribution lines. The co-op then repairs damaged distribution lines that carry power from substations to communities, subdivisions and other groups of member homes.

3 -- Individual services.  Focus then shifts to service lines to individual members’ homes.  Coyner notes, “If your service line is damaged, you may have no power when your neighbor does. Let us know so we can repair it.”

Coyner points out that certain situations require member action before service can be safely restored: “If your home’s weather head, meter base or the conduit above it is damaged, it’s your responsibility to have those repaired by a licensed electrician,” Coyner says. “Then notify us so we can get your power back on.”

Another important matter Coyner emphasizes is that portable generators, mainly used when power lines are down, can prove fatal to line workers, you and your neighbors when used improperly. There is a risk of electrocution, fire injury, property damage, or carbon monoxide poisoning.

“A generator connected to a home’s wiring or plugged into a regular household outlet can cause backfeeding along power lines and electrocute anyone who comes in contact with them—even if the line seems dead,” stressed Coyner.  “A qualified, licensed electrician can install a transfer switch to prevent backfeeding specifically for generator use.  Use heavy-duty, outdoor-rated, three prong extension cords free of cuts or tears.”

As a reminder, if you see a down power line, stay away from the area and call Marlboro Electric Cooperative immediately at (843)479-3855.  Emergency crews are always on standby.