Outage Response

We know it’s frustrating to be without power and how important it is to have good information about when it will be restored. VEC is committed to providing the most timely and accurate information possible to members who are experiencing outages. Included below is some information about restoration prioritization and sequencing in response to some frequently asked questions:

How does VEC know if I have an outage?

We use the information received from incoming member calls and emails and we use our system to “ping” meters for communication to check circuits, line sections, and individual meters.

How do you prioritize who to restore first?

The following criteria is used to determine restoration priorities:

  1. Urgent or life-threatening public safety hazards.
  2. Transmission lines.
  3. Substations.
  4. Distribution primary three-phase circuits (e.g., 1A, 2A, etc.).
  5. Distribution lines with critical facilities (e.g., police, fire, EMS, hospitals or other medical facilities, Red Cross facilities, military facilities, schools, sewage/water plants, radio/cellular towers, EV fast chargers, food distribution centers/supermarkets).
  6. Distribution lines that have members with noted medical accounts.
  7. Distribution lines by number of members without power.
  8. Individual connections and member secondary wires.

How does VEC determine estimated times of restoration (ETRs)?

It depends on the nature of the outage. If we have an outage that affects an en­tire substation, everyone affected by that outage (which could be hundreds or even thousands of homes) is given a single ETR. That is the ETR for the substation itself.

Once the substation is restored, we work our way out through the system and identify other damage on the lines. At that point, we’re able to give more accurate ETRs as we assess damage and hone in on individual circuits.

That’s why, in a large outage event, ETRs often change as we get better informa­tion from the field. Every storm is unique, so we also are able to improve ETRs as we learn about the particular conditions the storm has created.

Why does an Estimate Time of Restoration (ETR) sometimes change?

Estimates sometimes change because the repair was more or less complicated than what we expected upon initial assessment. Sometimes an outage will become part of a next phase restoration with a new ETR.

Why does the ticket # sometime change?

The needed repair of a main line (transmission/primary lines) is given a ticket number and the estimated restoration time is for that initial repair. When the main line is repaired that ticket is closed. Any circuits, line sections, or individual outages that remain out are given a new ticket number with a new estimated restoration time as soon as we have one.

Why is it that I might be experiencing an outage but my neighbor isn’t?

There are a number of possible reasons. If you’re fed off of a three-phase circuit, your neighbors can be fed off of a differ­ent phase than you. One phase might be out while another is still working. Your neighbor may have service from a different electric utility, whose system is not currently experiencing an outage. There may also be damage on the individual distribution line that connects your house to the system, or it could be another behind-the-meter issue like with your circuit panel.

How can I minimize the impact of big outages on me and my family?

While VEC constantly takes proactive steps to prevent outages, they do hap­pen. The best thing you can do is be prepared. Be sure that cell phones are charged and that you have flashlights/batteries, water, blankets, and plenty of warm clothing available in case the power goes out. See more details on the VEC website: www.vermontelectric.coop/storm-preparedness