(video from NRECA)
When the power goes out in Missouri, you know that your rural Electric Cooperatives step into action. But have you ever wondered exactly what happens behind the scenes in order to get your lights back on?
In this post, we’ll share the four main steps that your local Cooperative takes when it restores your power after an electrical outage. Before we explain those steps, though, let’s talk for a minute about how your Cooperative gets power to you, our Member-Owners.
From Generation to Transmission to Your Home
Your Missouri Electric Cooperative has to generate or acquire electric power in order to share it with you. In some cases, that power is generated at a large coal or nuclear power plant, and in other cases, it comes from distributed energy sources like our Member-Owner’s own solar fields or wind farms.
When your Cooperative gets its power from a larger power plant, that power moves along high voltage transmission lines from the plant to your local substation, where it’s “stepped down” to a lower voltage. That lower voltage power is then distributed from the substation to your home.
Generally speaking, when your power goes out, your Cooperative will need to repair the biggest lines and substations before power can be restored to your home. Taking that into consideration, though, it’s also possible for linemen to work on more than one part of the system at the same time.
Step 1: Repair High Voltage Transmission Lines
Working from big to small, the first step in restoring your power is to repair any damages to the high voltage transmission lines that carry electricity over long distances, supplying power to thousands of Member-Owners.
Steps 2 & 3: Inspect Distribution Substations & Main Distribution Lines
If your transmission lines are in good shape — or once necessary repairs are finished — the next step in restoring power is to inspect your distribution substations.
Distribution substations serve hundreds or thousands of Member-Owners, stepping high voltage power from transmission lines down to a lower voltage that your Cooperative’s main distribution lines can handle. Once linemen have inspected and repaired any damages at your substation, they can examine the main distribution lines that carry power your service area.
Step 4: Examine Tap Lines
When high voltage lines, distribution substations, and main distribution lines are all in proper working order, the final step to restoring your power is to repair the tap lines that deliver power to the transformers outside of the homes businesses, and schools in your community. Once all four of these steps are complete, your lights should be back on.
Four Steps that Aren’t Always Linear
Your Missouri Electric Cooperatives work tirelessly to get your power on again as quickly as possible after an outage. Our goal is always to restore power to the greatest number of Member-Owners in the shortest time possible, while giving priority to emergency and medical services.