HOW POWER IS RESTORED
Whenever there is a power outage, our primary goal is restore your power....quickly and safely. We have operational procedures in place to organize the restoration process, as well as communication procedures to provide information to radio stations, television and newspapers to keep you informed. You can also find outage updates on our social media pages on Twitter and Facebook.
Damage After an Outage
Power outages, whether triggered by a storm, lightning, trees, animals, or vehicles hitting power poles, can damage computer equipment, TVs and other appliances in your home. These events are all out of our control and Beltrami Electric Cooperative does not compensate for any damaged equipment.
However, most homeowner's insurance policies cover losses from power interruptions caused by lightning, windstorms and other such weather. Make sure you're familiar with your policy and what is covered. Call your agent if you're not sure about your specific coverage. You can help protect your own equipment by unplugging it during a power outage and by installing surge protection.
If you are a SmartHub user, reporting your outage through your SmartHub app on your mobile device is quick and easy. Members may also call our office at (218) 444-2540 or (800) 955-6083 24 hours a day, seven days a week to report an outage. For members who have preregistered for Outage Texting, this is also a quick and easy way to report an outage.
Beltrami Electric Cooperative relies on members to notify us when they experience an outage. 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.
It is hard to predict how long an outage will take to be restored due to the number of variables. Power outages have a variety of causes such as weather, animals, trees, 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.
* Underground faults take longer to restore as we are required by law to contact Gopher State One Call, and wait for locators for other utilities that share the corridor with our lines. Sometimes the locators for other utilities may be hours away.
* Crews can start the restoration process during a thunderstorm if lightning is active due to safety reasons.
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.
You can verify we are aware of your outage by contacting our dispatch center at (800) 955-6083.
It depends on the cause of the outage. Remember to check and make sure your power is not out because of an electrical problem inside your home, such as a tripped breaker. There are instances where members on different sides of the road are supplied power from separate connections or circuits. 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.
If you see a Beltrami Electric Cooperative vehicle pass by without stopping, it is because work must first be performed at a nearby location before electric service can be restored to you and your neighbors. Following the outage restoration process ensures all members have their power restored as quickly and safely as possible.
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 to focus on their work so they can restore your power safely.
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.
Stay away! Always assume the power line is live and keep everyone (including children and pets) away. Do not drive on them. 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.
If a household member has necessary medical equipment that requires electricity to sustain life—contact the Cooperative to complete the required paperwork for an alert to be placed on your location. Information collected will be used in the event of an outage and/or disconnection. Please understand, with an alert in place, the cooperative cannot guarantee a higher level of restoration of service or the continuity of service should the area experience a power outage. It is important to have a back-up plan in place, such as using a generator or staying with a friend or family member in the event of an unexpected outage.
Once the power goes out, it’s important to turn off every unneeded electrical item. Every item requiring electricity puts a strain on the system. The less initial electric demand on the system, generally the quicker power can be fully restored. If the initial demand is too great, the system will overload and the power will go off again. There are two exceptions. A light inside the house should be left on to signal when power has been restored and the porch light should switched on so cooperative line personnel can tell which homes have their electricity back.
Once power is restored, gradually turn on lights, air conditioners, heaters and other electrical appliances back on, say over a half an hour, to ease the demand on the system.
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.
Create a plan and prepare an emergency preparedness kit with essentials like flashlights, batteries, medicine, blankets, food and water. 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.
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.
Beltrami Electric Cooperative uses a safe and efficient process for getting your power back on as safely and quickly as possible. We give top priority to any situation that has live, downed wires or poses a threat to public safety. Typically, outages are restored in the following order:
- Transmission lines from power plants to substations.
- Main distribution/feeder lines from substations to communities.
- Tap lines from feeders into neighborhoods.
- Service lines to individual homes and businesses.
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.
For larger outages, we will also send updates to radio and post to our social media pages on Facebook and Twitter.
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. It's also important to operate your generator outside of your home and away from windows to prevent carbon monoxide from entering your home.
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.
Blinking lights can be a result of momentary outages that occur when some type of disturbance exists on the line. They most often occur when tree limbs or animals come in contact with electric lines, or when lightning strikes.
When lights blink, it can be an indication that the cooperative’s equipment is operating properly. If a fault or short circuit occurs on a power line, a device called an oil circuit recloser (OCR) opens to stop it, and then quickly closes. Although the process is quick – and usually temporary – it may cause your lights to blink, making it necessary to reset digital clocks and appliances with digital displays.
The OCR is essentially a breaker, functioning much like a breaker in the electrical panel in your home. It permits power to continue flowing through the line with only a brief interruption of service, rather than causing an extended power outage.
If the short circuit continues, the OCR will operate or trip three times before eventually stopping the flow of electricity and causing a power outage. This process prevents serious and costly damage to our equipment and lengthy outages for our members, cutting off power to a section of the line and isolating the problem until it can be repaired and service restored.
Although the weather and nature’s creatures are beyond our control, Beltrami Electric takes all possible measures to prevent these occurrences and minimizes the effects to our members. Members can lessen the effects and inconvenience of “blinks” when they occur by purchasing small appliances and digital clocks with battery backup. Other ways include installing meter-base surge protection for the major appliances in your home and surge protection with built-in uninterrupted power supply (UPS) for your computer or other electronic devices whose memory would be lost with a power interruption.
Electric co-ops are committed to providing reliable, uninterrupted electrical power to members, but sometimes, storms, car accidents – and even squirrels – can cause power outages. This quick video discusses the most common causes of power outages.