Although we work hard to maintain our equipment, monitor power delivery 24/7, and do all we can to keep the lights on, there are circumstances beyond our control that can interfere with power delivery. Winter weather is one example. Winter storms can impact
the distribution of electricity due to ice, heavy winds, sleet, and other extreme conditions.
Regardless of the reason, know that when the lights go out — even during extreme weather — we are doing all we can to safely and efficiently restore power. In fact, our mission statement is to serve our members’ energy needs with affordable and reliable electricity.
Along with causing outages, wintery conditions can cause hiccups with power delivery that include blinking or flickering lights. Although blinking lights can be a symptom of other problems such as loose wiring connections or overloaded circuits, they can also be caused by extreme weather conditions.
Wintery conditions include:
Ice/freezing rain: Ice accumulation on power lines makes them heavy. A half an inch of ice can add as much as 500 pounds to a power line. This added weight can impact power distribution and even bring down a power line. Ice that forms on a power line also increases its surface area, which means gusts of wind have more to catch. The weight of ice on tree limbs can cause them to fall on power lines as well.
Icy roads: Vehicles sliding on ice or that collide with one another can strike a power pole or pad-mounted transformer, causing an outage or other problems.
Wind: Wind can cause tree branches to brush power lines, which can result in blinking or flickering lights. Therefore it’s so important for us to keep trees cleared around power lines and poles. In addition, heavy winds (or extreme wind plus ice) can cause lines to move and sway. If they gain enough momentum, they can gallop or jump. This, in turn, can cause disruptions in service since the extreme motion can cause lines to either break or make contact with each other, which they are not meant to do.
Melting ice: Melting ice can be extremely heavy, putting extra strain on power lines and causing the lines to touch or rest on one another. Because of this, melting ice can cause outages even though the temperature is rising. Depending on conditions, melting ice can cause as many or more problems than the ice itself. Wind or ice + tree branches: In any weather condition (or even in calm conditions), tree-related issues cause the most power outages in many service areas. Branches, limbs or even tree trunks can fall into power lines and cause problems. Add wind, freezing rain, or ice to the mix for an increased potential for problems.
Blizzards: Heavy snowfall, icy roads, or reduced visibility can make it a little more difficult for our crews to get out and fix problems, although we do all we can to get out there to address service issues as soon as possible.
In 2020, Cass County Electric Cooperative members were without power for an average of 48 mintues.