There’s no such thing as a “convenient” power outage, but we work tirelessly to minimize the frequency, scale and length of outages when they occur. We take many proactive measures to avoid unexpected outages, including responsible tree pruning, infrastructure upgrades and annual inspections of our equipment. Our Safety Through Asset Reliability (STAR) initiative ensures we maintain and update our electric and natural gas delivery systems.
Most common causes of power outages
Tree branches can collapse even in ideal conditions. Tree limbs touching power lines or falling onto electrical equipment are frequent causes of power outages. Weather, tree age and pruning all impact how often trees interfere with your power. Falling branches often cause a power surge or flickering. We proactively prune trees throughout our service territory and conduct regular inspections to look for tree growth that may impact our power lines.
Lightning often strikes tall objects like trees, utility poles, wires and transformers to serve as a conductor. When lightning strikes electrical equipment, it can cause a loss of power.
Any wind can cause tree limbs or debris to break or fall onto power lines, which can cause dimming lights or an interruption of service. Severe wind can also break or damage poles and electrical equipment, which can also interrupt service.
Ice and Snow
Buildup of snow and ice can become heavy and cause power lines to break. Heavy frost can also weigh down tree limbs enough to cause them to fall and damage power lines or utility poles.
Rain and Flooding
Heavy rain and melting snow can both cause flooding, which can damage above-ground and underground electrical equipment. In some cases, city inspectors require energy companies to temporarily turn off service to certain areas to protect the public from electrical hazards.
Vehicles coming into contact with utility poles is a common cause of power outages
Small animals, such as squirrels and birds, frequently come into contact with transformers, fuses or other energized equipment. Contact from animals can cause a fault, which is an interruption in the flow of power that can make your power flicker or go out. Watch how we install equipment in our substations to help prevent small animals from coming into contact with energized lines.
Contractors, landscapers or homeowners can damage underground electrical equipment when digging. If you are planning to dig or hire someone to dig on your property, remember to call 811 two days before to have underground utility lines marked.
Poor Connection or Faulty Equipment
An outage could be caused by a malfunction in your customer-owned electrical facilities, such as lines going from your electric meter to your home, and wires to outdoor lights or outbuildings. Contact a qualified electrician to have your facilities inspected regularly. Learn what equipment is your responsibility to repair.
To maintain and repair our equipment safely, we may schedule planned outages in some areas. You will be notified in advance of a planned outage.
We are always striving to find new ways to prepare our systems for unexpected outages and keep you informed of our progress when they do happen. Learn how we work to get your power restored quickly and safely in the end of an unplanned outage.