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Storm Restoration 101

Aug 11, 2015 |

Do you ever wonder how utilities like NorthWestern Energy work to restore power after a major storm? Probably not: unless a storm just rolled through and you’re out of power. Every situation is unique, but here’s how it works. Our crews head out as soon as it’s safe to do so to begin assessing the damage. Meanwhile our customer service reps, engineers, warehouse personnel, community relations and communications staff are working to respond to customers and make sure that field staff have what they need to do their jobs. We work from the largest to smallest. So, transmission lines and substations get first priority because they’re needed to power the distribution system to homes and businesses.  At the same time, crews that are working on the distribution system take a similar approach by working on the circuits and feeders first. These are larger lines that feed neighborhoods and commercial districts. As power is restored to these facilities, crews begin tackling the individual scattered outages in the area.

Downed lines and poles often accompany major storm damage. Areas with a lot of trees complicate restoration due to the length of time it takes to safely remove trees and limbs from lines. Often tree crews are called in to work on tree removal while power crews are working on restoration. Typically, smaller individual outages are caused by tree damage. If the services have been damaged to your home, you may need to have a qualified electrician repair the damage before we can restore electricity.

While it may be tempting to try and remove storm damage or tree limbs from power lines, DON’T. The line may still be energized even when it’s on the ground and the threat of electrocution is very real. Don’t be a hero. Wait for the professionals to do their job. Extended outages are an inconvenience and there are alternatives available if you need medical assistance either through the American Red Cross or other providers in the area. 

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