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Storms

Power Up

A closer look at what it takes to restore power and internet service following a damaging storm

It’s springtime in Oklahoma, and we know what that means: the potential of unpredictable, severe weather can occur on any given day. While OEC and OEC Fiber proactively prepare for the impact of spring storms by strengthening our system throughout the year, the possibility of damaging weather remains.

When the storms are gone, OEC and OEC Fiber crews jump into action to restore service. It’s an all-hands-on-deck approach to ensuring members’ and subscribers’ power and internet services are restored safely and quickly. What exactly does this look like in practice?

HOW OEC RESTORES POWER

When electricity goes out, most of us expect power will be restored within a few hours. But when a major storm causes widespread damage, longer outages may result.

 

OEC line crews work long, hard hours to restore service safely to the greatest number of consumers in the shortest time possible.

 

First, transmission towers and cables that supply power to transmission substations must be repaired before other parts of the system can operate. Because OEC does not operate transmission infrastructure, we depend on those who do — like our wholesale power provider, Western Farmers Electric Cooperative.

 

Once transmission structures are safely back in place, line crews inspect substations to determine if problems stem from transmission lines feeding into the substation, the substation itself, or if problems exist down the line.

 

If the problem cannot be isolated at a distribution substation, distribution lines are checked. These lines carry power to large groups of consumers in communities or housing developments.

 

If local outages persist, supply lines, called tap lines, are inspected. These lines deliver power to transformers, either mounted on poles or placed on pads for underground service, outside businesses, schools and homes.

 

If your home remains without power, the service line between a transformer and your residence may need to be repaired. Members are encouraged to use their MyOEC mobile app or call 405-321-2024 to report power outages.

HOW OEC FIBER RESTORES INTERNET SERVICE

How OEC Fiber responds varies depending on the scope of the outage, but the core response stays the same. We work from the largest area of impact to the smallest.

 

“[First,] the electric crews have to get electric service restored,” said Manager of Fiber Optic Technicians Jeremy Kilpatrick. “Then we get fiber back up. The main lines have to get put back up first. Then splicing and drops.”

 

Splicing is the meticulous process technicians perform to connect (or weld together) fiber optic cables. One main line consists of 288 thin, hair-like fibers that must be spliced together when damage occurs — one at a time. And technicians must perform the splicing in two separate places on one stretch of main line. To see this process in action, watch the video “A Day in the Life of a Fiber Tech” on OEC Fiber’s YouTube page.

 

Drops are the lines going to individual homes. Running lines to these homes only works if there is a primary system to connect to. Technicians often install a temporary or “temp” line to restore service until they can install a permanent line.

 

Not all service issues require a crew. Using the OEC Fiber Support app to diagnose issues can prevent unnecessary waiting when outages occur.

STAY UPDATED DURING AN OUTAGE

If weather does impact your electricity or internet services, updates can be found at okcoop.org/outagecenterThere, members and subscribers may access a live outage map, the latest updates via our social media feeds, a reminder of how power is restored, tips to prepare for an extended outage, and more. For more on how OEC Fiber crews restore internet service following an outage, visit OECFiber.com/outage-response.

 

When the weather takes a turn for the worst, you can rest easy knowing the skilled, knowledgeable staff at OEC and OEC Fiber are working around-the-clock to restore your electricity and internet services so you can return to normal life as quickly as possible. That’s the power of connection.

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