It is a universal truth that power outages happen at the least convenient times, like the fourth quarter of a football game or just before the Times Square Ball drops in New York City, but many people don’t know the causes of the outages.
Weather. Weather is one of the most common causes of power outages for our members. From lightning to wind or ice, weather impacts Medina EC’s equipment. When the weather involves high winds or flooding, it can also delay our crew’s response times.
Trees. An overgrowth of vegetation can cause outages by coming into contact with power lines. Medina EC performs right-of-way work, including cutting brush and trees, within 40 feet of power lines while being respectful of the landscape. In 2015, Medina EC began a seven-year vegetation management program, hoping to inspect and clear all rights-of-way in our service area every seven years. With more than 9,000 miles of line, this goal will be a challenge. If you notice trees or branches that might interfere with power lines or pose a serious threat, please call 1-866-MEC-ELEC (632-3532).
Vehicles. Car accidents and vehicles colliding with power poles have been known to cause outages, as have farm equipment that runs into power lines. One such accident occurred October 26 in the Hondo area, affecting more than 5,000 meters in Hondo and Uvalde—some of which were without power for nearly an hour.
Animals. Due to the rural nature of the cooperative’s service area, both wild and domestic animals cause power outages. These animals range in size from insects and squirrels to deer and cows. Cows like to use poles and lower hanging wires to scratch, and birds like to perch on the lines and poles—all of which can cause an outage if the lines involved are energized or broken as a result. Animals also impact our members in the fall around dove season due to the increase of doves perching on the lines. When a large group of doves fly off the wires, it can cause the wires to jump and hit each other, resulting in blinks. As of October, close to 11% of Medina EC’s outages so far this year were caused by small animals or birds.
Balloons. While mylar balloons make parties more festive, when released these balloons can cause big problems for power lines and substations. Not only will these metallic beauties leave you without power, but mylar balloons have also been known to start large fires. In 2013, mylar balloons came in contact with a power line, ignited and caused a fire in California known as the Deer Fire, which burned more than 11,000 acres.
Planned Maintenance. Sometimes outages are necessary to upgrade or replace equipment, such as poles, restringing wire or changing out meters. Depending on the situation, crews sometimes plan a power outage so that the work can be performed in the safest possible environment. In those cases, members are notified in advance.
Equipment Failure. We strive to update our equipment before it can cause outages, but failure does occur with equipment on more than 9,000 miles of line.
No matter the reason, time of day or weather, Medina EC’s crews are dedicated to restoring our members’ power as fast as possible during all outages.