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Outage FAQs

Power OutagesBeltrami Electric Cooperative (BEC)
Power Outage FAQs

 

Does BEC know my power is out?

BEC relies on members to notify us when they experience an outage. Report your outage in one of three ways.  Call (800) 955-6083, report your outage through SmartHub, or if you have signed up previously for Outage Texting, simply text us.  Our new metering system does notify us if it senses a power loss, however, we encourage members to still contact us.  Data provided by our members is important to help us analyze the outage to find the location and cause.

What’s the best way to get information about my outage?

You can visit our Outage Map.  BEC also communicates regularly with local news media and posts outage updates on Twitter and Facebook. (You do not need a Facebook account in order to view our page on Facebook).

Why isn’t an estimated restoration time available?

Power outages have a variety of causes such as weather, animals, dig-ins, auto accidents, equipment failure, etc., each with their own unique set of circumstances and safety procedures. The time it takes to restore power can vary greatly, depending on the cause and circumstance.

Because of this, sometimes we are not able to provide an estimated restoration time. Unfortunately, this is often the case following major storms that impact a lot of members, because of the number of incidents for crews to address. We cannot provide good estimates until the incident has been assessed, a cause determined and we have assigned a crew to the job.  Sometimes conditions change or we may need to bring in additional crews or equipment and outages may last longer than estimated.

My power is out. Why isn’t my outage location showing on your Outage Map?

The outage locations displayed on our Outage Map are approximate. The dots and highlighted areas are related to the equipment causing the outage, not necessarily the location of the members who are impacted. For example, your outage may be caused by a downed tree a few blocks away, or by an animal at a substation a few miles away.

After a big storm, how does BEC prioritize who gets power restored first?

BEC always works to restore your power as quickly and safely as possible. Our power restoration process is designed to address emergency situations first and then to restore power to as many members as possible. Learn more.

There’s a line down on my property. What should I do?

Stay away! Always assume it is live and keep everyone (including children and pets) away. Report it by calling BEC at 800-955-6083 or 444-2540. If the situation becomes an emergency, such as a fire, call 911. If you are cleaning up debris after a storm, do not remove tree limbs near downed lines until BEC crews come and make the area safe.

Why don’t I see a BEC truck in my neighborhood?

Just because you don’t see one of our trucks, that doesn’t mean we’re not working to restore your power. Outages are caused by a variety of reasons, and the cause may be in someone’s back yard a few blocks away, or at a substation a few miles away. If you experience a power outage, please be sure to report it to us, and we’ll work as quickly and safely as possible to get you back up and running.

Crews from BEC are working in my neighborhood. Can I ask them about the outage?

Please do not approach BEC crews as they are working. Our line technicians perform difficult and dangerous work, sometimes in adverse conditions. Please allow them the focus on their work so they can restore your power safely.

Why do my neighbors across the road continue to have power but I don’t?

There are instances where members on different sides of a road are supplied power from separate connections. If a problem occurs with one of those connections members on that line may lose power while members on another connection may still have power.

Why is it important that BEC has my current phone number?

Our Outage Management System (OMS) will automatically match an outage with the phone number you call from, however, if we do not have your current phone numbers in our system, it will take additional steps to confirm the location you are calling about.  Additionally, if our dispatch or member service representatives need to ask questions to restore your service faster they need to be able to reach you directly – not leave a message. Also, after your power has been restored, BEC may attempt to confirm if you reported the outage, so we need the best number to reach you.  Update my info.

Why does my power blink on and off?

Momentary power interruptions, often described as lights “flickering” or “blinking” very briefly can last from less than a second to just a few seconds. Most distribution power lines are protected by special devices called breakers and reclosers. These devices are able to detect line interferences and shut off the flow of power to that section of the power line for a split second. This design often allows any interference the ability to clear the power line on its’ own. Learn more.

For example, if a tree branch makes contact with our power lines, the system detects this interference and shuts off electricity to that section of the line for a moment.  If the contact is eliminated, either because the tree limb falls or snaps back into place away from the line, the problem is resolved without an extended outage. This is how momentary power outages can help to prevent damages and extended outages.

How can I prepare for storms and power outages?

Create a plan and prepare an emergency outage kit with essentials like flashlights, batteries, medicine and blankets. When you develop your plan, think about what you would do in an extended outage, such as using a generator or staying with family or friends. Learn more.

Does BEC haul away tree limbs and branches after a storm?

When unplanned tree trimming is necessary during a storm or outage situation, BEC crews do not remove the debris. Our crews will make the area safe, but then must work quickly to restore power to all of our members.  In these situations, call your community's public works department, private trash collectors or a professional tree-removal service for advice regarding the disposal of brush and other debris.

Who repairs damage to the electrical equipment connecting to my home?

If the electrical equipment on your home or business is damaged, a licensed electrician or contractor may be required to repair damage before service can be restored. BEC installs and maintains the service line. The member owns and is responsible for the meter base, service entrance cable and masthead. Learn more.

Does BEC provide vouchers for food that spoils after an extended outage?

BEC does not provide vouchers for food that spoils due to a power outage. We offer tips and information to help you be prepared and keep your food safe on our website. Learn more.

Will BEC reimburse me for any personal losses I may have incurred in my home as a result of an outage due to adverse weather?

No, BEC does not reimburse for losses caused by events outside of their control including adverse weather. We recommend you work with your insurance provider for reimbursement of personal losses.

I have a special medical condition and rely on electricity to keep medical equipment running. What should I do when I lose power?

It’s important to have a plan in place in case of a power outage, especially if you have a special medical condition. You may contact BEC to let us know of your condition and we can note it on your account. However, BEC cannot guarantee you priority restoration, and you need to have a backup plan in place, such as using a generator or staying with a friend or family member.

Can I hook up a generator to my home?

Yes, as long as you take steps to ensure you’re connecting it safely and following all instructions in your owner’s manual. BEC recommends that you have a GenerLink™ device for a safe connection. Learn more. It’s also important to operate your generator outside of your home and away from windows to prevent carbon monoxide from entering your home. Learn more.

Can I use an extension cord from my neighbor who has power until my power is restored?

No. Using extension cords to reach from one home to another could be a safety issue, because you are exposing those extension cords to many things that could damage them (people walking or driving vehicles over the cords, weather conditions and more). Any damage to the insulation of an extension cord could expose people to electrical shocks and burns.

How does BEC notify members if they have to turn off power for scheduled maintenance?

If BEC needs to interrupt your service for scheduled maintenance, we do our best to inform you of the outage to avoid inconvenience as much as possible. If the outage impacts a very small number of members, a line technician may knock on your door. If many members are impacted, we will provide an automated call you to let you know of the planned outage and when to expect to get power back on. This is another reason why it's important BEC has your current phone number.

Why can’t all power lines go underground? Wouldn’t that keep storms from knocking out power?

Currently more than 70% of BEC lines are underground.  Burying all of the power lines that serve our members would be very expensive — roughly $80,000 per mile. These costs would be passed along to our members in the form of higher rates. While placing power lines underground may result in fewer storm-related outages overall, outages do occur on underground power lines. Locating faults on underground power lines tends to be more time-consuming because our crews cannot visually determine what caused the outage.  We are required to notify Gopher State One Call and they contact other utilities that may be in the area, which have to send their own locators to mark their utility service lines prior to allowing us to dig.  Sometimes the locators for other utilities may be hours away. Additionally, special equipment is required for fault location and the restoration efforts can be lengthened since excavation is typically involved to repair the service.

BEC continually investigates and evaluates the most cost-effective methods to enhance and "harden" our system. We must consider detailed cost benefit analysis to ensure we provide the safe, reliable service our members expect and deserve while doing so in such a manner that high costs do not negatively impact our members' rates.

 

Have more questions?  Call us at 218-444-2540 or 800-955-6083 and we would be happy to help!

 

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