Remember the Winter “Blinks”
DURANGO, Colo. ─ La Plata Electric Association, Inc. (LPEA) members may have recently witnessed their electricity appearing to turn off and on in rapid succession during the recent winter storm that moved through southwest Colorado. The few irritating “blinks” to some, tend to cause LPEA members to believe something is wrong with their lines and they contact LPEA to report the issue.
In fact, the lights are flickering because LPEA’s electric distribution system is doing just what it’s designed to do. “The power cutting off and on can be a nuisance, but it’s all about safety," says Justin Talbot, manager of operations. "LPEA’s system is programmed to react when any foreign object, such as a tree branch, another wire, or something comes in contact with the energized wires, the system automatically locks open, or stops the flow of electricity, until the cause of the problem can be determined."
During storms, wind can blow wires together or cause tree branches to briefly touch a line. Also, sometimes wet snow will pile up on the wires, and then discharge – or abruptly fall off – causing the electric distribution wires to bounce and interact with each other or nearby objects. Any of these occurrences will prompt the system to automatically cut power to avoid potential fires or further damage to the system, as well as give the interfering object a chance to clear the line.
“The ‘blinks’ happen because LPEA’s automated electric distribution system will quickly try to re-energize the line, recognizing that the interference may be only temporary,” says Talbot. “If, however, the system senses a continued problem, an extended outage is projected. At that time, our Dispatch directs LPEA’s crews, which are on call 24-7, to the location to determine the cause of the outage and begin repairs.”
If members experience a few blinks, it’s not necessary to call LPEA immediately, according to Talbot. If, however, after about 15 minutes the power has not been automatically restored, members are encouraged to call the main LPEA line, (970) 247-5786 to report the outage.
“When you call to report an outage, you will reach a customer service representative or our Outage Management System (OMS),” says Brad Fuqua, engineering IT specialist. “If the OMS recognizes the phone number you’re calling from, it can provide you with the latest outage information for your account, or if your call is reporting a new outage, it will automatically alert LPEA’s Dispatch.”
As we welcome winter, be sure LPEA has your current phone numbers on file so we can keep you informed during an outage.
“But back to the ‘blinks,’” adds Talbot. “If you do experience continual, unusual brief outages, do let us know. It could be more than the snow bouncing the wires, and we’ll get that repaired for you.”
LPEA, a Touchstone Energy Cooperative celebrating 80 years in 2019, provides to its more than 30,000 members, with in excess of 42,000 meters, safe, reliable electricity at the lowest reasonable cost, while being environmentally responsible.