Everything listed under: Reliability

  • Your Missouri Electric Cooperatives Step Up to Storms

    “Thousands lost power in the St. Louis area and more than 30 homes had to be evacuated south of the city due to flooding that swamped roads and even left a woman trapped as she went into labor (source).”

    That’s what Weather.com had to say about the most recent bouts of flooding in Missouri. It wasn’t just St. Louis proper that suffered flooding, but smaller rural communities, as well. In DeSoto, a town of less than 6,500 people about 50 miles south of St. Louis, more than thirty homes were evacuated during this August’s flash floods.

    How Do Flash Floods Cause Power Outages

    Power outages are a common side effect of bad weather in Missouri, but do you know exactly why it is that flash floods can cause you to lose power? Flood water can damage electrical lines and equipment, so your Missouri Electric Cooperative sometimes mitigates risk of equipment damage by scheduling downtimes during floods.

    Another way flooding causes power outages is that because floods are usually a result of heavy rains. Heavy rains are often accompanied by lighting, thunder, and strong winds. Nature is powerful, and any one of these forces of nature (much less a combination of them) can bring down power lines.

    Down trees and fallen branches can cause power outages, too. Flooding can weaken the soil where trees take root, causing entire trees to become uprooted. High winds can fell trees, and those same winds can cause branches to fall on power lines. In extreme cases, wind can damage power lines directly.

    What You Can Do

    When your community suffers sever storms and flash floods, there’s always a strong possibility that you’ll lose power for some length of time. Your Missouri Electric Cooperatives recommend keeping an emergency supply of food and water in your home, as well as batter-operated flashlights, and — if possible — an emergency generator.

    What Your Missouri Electric Cooperatives Will Do

    When flash floods cause service disruptions, your Missouri Electric Cooperatives will get power back to your community as quickly a possible by working together with workers from neighboring Cooperatives. In July 2016, more than 20,000 Missouri Member-Owners lost power during severe summer storms.

    Cooperative crews from Black River Electric, SEMO Electric, and Intercounty Electric brought construction and maintenance crews, linemen, and trucks to help repair downed power lines, clear debris from tree damage, and repair broken power poles in Bourbon, Licking, and Troy, where most of the storm’s damage was concentrated. 

    Cooperation Among Cooperatives

    Your Cooperatives will always cooperate with one another when severe weather strikes. That kind of “Cooperation Among Cooperatives” is one of the basic principles that makes your nonprofit Cooperatives unique.

    You can learn more about Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives, and how we work to provide safe, efficient energy to rural Missouri by following us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.


  • Blackouts & Brownouts: Why Do They Matter To Me?

    Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives work hard to ensure that you have access to reliable, affordable energy. Blackouts and brownouts can still occur, though, and they can have negative effects on your health, home, and business.

    Read more: Blackouts & Brownouts: What’s the Difference?

    Our Member-Owners rely on electrical power for commerce, computing, food and medicine refrigeration, and more. A power outage or brownout — especially if it’s prolonged — could be a major inconvenience or even pose as a danger for your family. Here are several examples of why blackouts and brownouts matter to you.

    Blackouts and Brownouts Can Affect Electric Motors

    Electric motors are designed to run at a specific voltage, and changes in voltage affect the way the motor runs. Electric motors can overheat and burn out, resulting in expensive repairs and lost production time.

    What to do: If at all possible, electric motors should be turned off and unplugged during power surges and sags.

    Blackouts and Brownouts Can Affect Computers and Computer Networks

    Blackouts and brownouts can damage or disrupt computer systems and networks. Networks can be forced offline, cash registers can fail to function properly, and entire computer systems can go down. Individual machines can suffer hard drive failures, as well.

    What to do: If at all possible, power down and then unplug (simply turning them off will not protect them) your computer and other valuable electronics during electrical storms, other severe weather, and brownout conditions. 

    Blackouts and Brownouts Affects Refrigeration

    Refrigeration is affected by power outages. If power is out or altered for an extended time, refrigerated foods will go bad, which means an increased potential for food-borne illness. Similarly, prescription medications like insulin that require refrigeration may have to be thrown out after a power outage. 

    Blackouts and Brownouts Affect Your Home’s Water Supply

    Sewage plants usually have emergency power generators, so most municipalities will be able to treat their wastewater during outages. Homes that use electric water pumps, however, may not be able to run toilets, sinks, or showers during power outages.

    What to do: If you know an outage is coming, fill a bathtub with clean water. Keep a supply of bottled water on hand in case of emergency.

    Blackouts and Brownouts Can Cause Extreme Weather Exposure

    Power outages are most likely to occur during times of peak usage and severe weather. That means that the hottest summer days are one of the most likely times for our Member-Owners to experiences outages. Another time when you’re likely to experience an outage is during severe weather like thunderstorms and winter storms.

    When power flickers or goes out completely during summer’s hottest days or winter’s coldest ones, you may be exposed to extreme heat or cold. Your Cooperatives work nonstop to get power back on during those times, but they can still be dangerous — especially for elderly or ill Member-Owners.

    What to do: Seek shelter with friends, family, or community organizations that are able to provide heat in winter or air conditioning in summer. Keep doors and windows shut in winter to hold warm air in your house, and close blinds and shades in summer to keep the sunlight out and the temperatures down. Dress appropriately for the season, and especially in summer, drink plenty of water.

    Blackouts and Brownouts Can Affect Emergency and Medical Care

    Blackouts and brownouts can affect emergency and medical care in a variety of different ways. Most hospitals and other medical treatment facilities have backup generators for electric power during outages, so it’s uncommon for a hospital to be completely without power.

    Medical centers are likely to see a higher influx of patients during outages though; especially during prolonged ones in seasons with extreme temperatures. Prolonged power outage can result in more temperature-related illness like heat stroke and hypothermia. Outages can also cause increased traffic accidents when stop lights and street lights stop working properly.

    What to do: Be prepared for longer wait times and for hospitals and other treatments centers to have longer lines than usual. 

    Unfortunately, blackouts and brownouts will happen from time to time, but Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives work hard to make sure that they are few and far between. We know that power is vital for your businesses, your farms, and your families in Missouri, so we make reliable, affordable access to electricity our top priority all year long.

    Learn more about Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives by following us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

  • What is a GFCI?

    Even if you don’t recognize the name GFCI, you’ve probably seen GFCI outlets in — among other places — hotel bathrooms. GFCIs are the electrical outlets that have the little red “reset” button on them, and they’re most commonly found in bathrooms, kitchens, and other rooms with a water source. If you’ve ever wondered what these “reset” outlets are or why they’re important, keep reading.

    What Does GFCI Stand For?

    GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. A GFCI is a special kind of electrical outlet that can help prevent electric shock in a way a “normal” outlet can’t. According to the Electrical Fire Safety International website, “GFCIs have saved thousands of lives over the last three decades.”

    To better understand how a GFCI works, let’s break it down a bit.

    What is a Ground Fault?

    Think back to middle school science classes and you’ll remember that electricity always wants to find its way back to the Earth (the ground) as quickly and efficiently as it can.

    Your home is wired so that electricity can find its way back to the ground along an intended, safely wired circuit. A ground fault occurs when, for whatever reason (accidental or intentional), that circuit is broken and the electricity leaves its intended path.

    When electricity leaves its intended path, it will use anything — water, metal, or a human body — to get itself to the ground as quickly and efficiently as it can. This can result in electric shock or even electrocution.

    How a GFCI Works

    A GFCI recognizes when electricity has left its intended path (circuit). In a fraction of a second, the GFCI will trip the power to that outlet, preventing an electrical current from flowing through an unintended path (like a human body) to reach the ground. In other words, a properly-installed GFCI can save a life.

    Where Should GFCIs Be Used?

    The National Electric Code published the first GFCI regulations in 1971. Since that time, those regulations have expanded considerably to include GFCI regulations for residential, commercial, and other property types.

    Generally speaking, GFCIs should be used in any location on your property where there’s a water source. Outlets in your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room should all be GFCI protected. Outdoor outlets (even those under the eve of your home) and any outlet where a power tool is likely to be plugged in should also be protected by a GFCI.

    Your Missouri Electric Cooperatives encourages you to consider hiring a licensed, bonded, and insured electrician if you’d like to install GFCI outlets in your home according to the National Electric Code.

    For more electrical safety recommendations from you Missouri Electric Cooperatives, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

  • Blackouts & Brownouts: What’s the Difference?

    Your Missouri Electric Cooperative does its best to provide you with reliable, affordable power all year long, but blackouts and brownouts that affect your service can still occur, especially when there’s high electricity demand or severe weather. Here’s what you need to know about blackouts and brownouts and what causes each.

    What is an Electrical Blackout?

    An electrical blackout is a complete loss of power, no matter how long it lasts or how far spread the outage is. A blackout can last a few minutes and cover just a small area or it can last for days and cover several states.

    Blackouts are exactly what they sound like: they’re a time all power goes dark because there’s no electricity at all. Blackouts can be dangerous, especially during winter, when many Missourians rely on electric power for home heat. 

    What is an Electric Brownout?

    An electrical brownout is a temporary reduction in voltage to a power supply system or a temporary reduction in the system’s total capacity. A brownout lasts minutes or hours, and it can cause lights to flicker or to go dim (or “brown”).

    Brownouts can happen when there’s an unintentional disruption to the grid, or they can be intentionally triggered by your Cooperative to reduce load and prevent a total power blackout (source). 

    What Causes Blackouts and Brownouts?

    Severe weather, a short circuit, an overloaded grid, power station faults, damaged power lines or other major disturbances cause electrical blackouts. Blackouts usually occur without warning, but your Cooperative may produce a brownout deliberately in an attempt to prevent a blackout.

    Electrical blackouts and brownouts are most likely to occur at times of the year when electrical demand is the highest — like on Missouri’s hottest summer days and during our coldest winter months — and during severe weather like tornadoes, lightning storms and ice storms.

    You can learn more about your Missouri Electric Cooperatives, and how we work to provide reliable electricity even during peak usage and severe weather, by following us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

  • Keeping Electricity Reliable, Safe, and Affordable in Missouri

    Your Electric Cooperatives are hard at work keeping electricity reliable, safe, and affordable in Missouri so that you, for you, our Member-Owners. When we’re doing our job well, you don’t have to think about where your electricity comes from. Have you ever wondered, though, where your Cooperative gets the energy it takes for your to run your air conditioner in the summer months or to bake your turkey on Thanksgiving Day?

    Nearly 70% of your Cooperative’s energy comes from baseload resources like coal and gas, but Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives rely on clean energy sources like solar, wind, and hydroelectric power, too. In fact, it’s that diversity that makes it possible for us to provide you with the safe, reliable, and affordable energy you’ve come to expect from us.

    While you’re keeping your home cool on a summer day, we’re taking care of your needs behind the scenes. When you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner, we’re making sure you’ve got a warm house for the holiday. This chart from Associated Electric Cooperative illustrates exactly how much of your Missouri Electric Cooperative’s energy comes from coal, gas, wind, and hydroelectric power.

    Source: AECI Overview PowerPoint

    68 percent of Missouri’s electric power comes from coal, with another twelve percent sourced from wind energy and natural gas, each. Eight percent of your Missouri Electric Cooperative’s power is sourced from hydroelectric power plants, and while this chart doesn’t reflect it, your Missouri Electric Cooperatives get energy from solar power, too.

    By pulling your power from a diverse array of sources, your Cooperative is able to provide reliable power, even at peak-use times of the day and during peak-use seasons of the year. This means that you, our Member-Owners, can go about your day-to-day lives without having to wonder if you’ll have power outages or if your bill will skyrocket.

    You can learn more about Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives and about how we work to provide safe, efficient energy to rural Missouri by following us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.