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Storm & Outage Center
Storms and Outages
Outage Safety
Stay safe during a power outage by following these guildelines:
  • Stay off the roads - Emergency workers may be assisting people in flooded areas or cleaning up debris. You can help them by staying off the roads and out of the way.
  • Stay away from fallen wires, broken utility poles or tree limbs on power lines. They may be live with deadly voltage. Stay away and report them immediately to Stoughton Utilities. Since the human body is 70 percent water, you are an excellent conductor of electricity. If you touch wires or poles, you risk electric shock which could be fatal.
  • Safely use generators at home. Never use a generator inside a home, basement, shed or garage even if doors and windows are open -- you will die from the poisons in the exhaust! Keep generators outside and far away from windows, doors and vents. Read both the label on your generator and the owner's manual and follow the instructions.
  • Don't leave burning candles unattended. If possible, use flashlights instead. If you must use candles, do not burn them on or near anything that can catch fire and do not leave the room while they're lit.
  • Unplug sensitive electronic equipment or use a surge protector to protect computers, fax machines, answering machines, televisions, stereos and appliances from surges caused by lightning.
  • Don't use extension cords between homes or across yards or streets. Such use could cause electrocution and fire.
  • Keep outdoor grills, stoves, and ovens outside. They are a fire hazard inside your home and the exhaust gases could also cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Only use standard kitchen appliances indoors!
  • Stay clear of electric company vehicles and equipment. Remind children that it's dangerous to play near our machinery or supplies, because they could be harmed by electrical shock.
  • Drink safe water. While the Stoughton Utilities' is still able to pump and store drinking water during an outage, electric pumps and operating wells in the rural areas may not operate during a power outage.
  • Keep refrigerated food safe. You can prevent food from spoiling by keeping freezer and refrigerator doors closed as much as possible. In most cases, food will stay frozen up to 48 hours if the door is opened infrequently. Refrigerated food can last several hours if refrigerator temperatures remain below 40 degrees.
  • Leave a light on in your home. When our crews do neighborhood spot checks, they'll know your power is back on if a light is on.
  • Create a family plan and make sure your children know what to do if an outage happens while they are home alone or with a caretaker.
  • Don’t drive or walk through flood waters. If there is a downed wire in the vicinity, the standing water may be electrified. In addition, it only takes a small amount of water to move people or vehicles. If you encounter a flooded roadway, don’t attempt to pass through water – turn around, don’t drown! And if your home has flood water inside or around it, don’t walk or wade in it. The water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage or electrified by contact with your home's electrical system.
  • Listen to your local officials and emergency employees. If you have been advised to stay in your home due to outside dangers, do so. If your neighborhood is being evacuated, please leave immediately. Make sure local officials have deemed the area safe prior to attempting to return home.

Preparing for an Outage
In Wisconsin the weather can get quite unpredictable, and even a small storm or animal can result in a large power outage. Once the lights go off it's too late to prepare for a power outage, so don't get caught searching in the dark for a flashlight or candles. Medical Equipment
If you or a family member relies on medical equipment powered by electricity, create an emergency plan. We cannot assure any customer that a storm or equipment problem will not interrupt power. Remember: Keep emergency numbers near medical equipment and regularly test the equipment's back-up power sources.

Sump Pumps and Cordless Phones
Your sump pump runs on electricity; consider a battery back-up. Choose one that will switch on automatically if an outage occurs. Your cordless phone will not work during a power outage; consider a spare plug-in telephone for emergency situations.

Generators
Test your generator every 30 days to make certain that it is in good operating condition. Always follow manufacturer's directions for safe operation. If back-feeding your generator into your home’s electrical system, ALWAYS use a transfer switch or disconnect your main breaker switch. Failure to do so could injure or kill our lineman working to restore our system, or bystanders who come into contact with wires on the ground.

Assemble An Emergency Kit
Prepare today by gathering a few basic emergency supplies and placing them in an emergency kit that's easy to locate in the dark. We suggest including these items:
  • Working Flashlights
  • Battery-Operated Radio for news & weather reports
  • Batteries for Flashlights & Radio
  • Candles & Matches
  • Blankets
  • Bottled Water (City customers will still have water to their faucets, rural customers may not)
  • Canned or Dried Food
  • A Corded Telephone (Cordless phones don't work when power is out.)
Other Things to Keep in Mind
  • Above all else, stay safe! Review and remember the outage safety guidelines detailed above.
  • Remember that electric garage door openers will not function during a power outage. Place your unit on "manual" if possible.
  • Electric sump pumps and pumps used for rural customer's wells also will not work during a power outage.
  • Protect electrical equipment from possible surges when power is restored. Use surge suppression devices to protect sensitive equipment such as computers, fax machines, answering machines, televisions, stereos and major appliances - or simply unplug them.
  • A power outage may affect the operation of security and alarm systems.
  • Protect food from spoiling by keeping freezer and refrigerator doors closed as much as possible. Food will stay frozen up to 48 hours if the door is not opened frequently.
  • Remember: Even if you have gas heat, the furnace blower is powered by electricity. In cooler weather, keep the doors, windows and draperies closed to prevent heat loss. In warmer weather, blinds and curtains will help shield against the heat of the sun.
  • If you leave your home or business, switch on a light that can be seen from the street. Our crews often "spot check" to ensure all customers have their electricity back on.
  • For the safety of everyone, stay clear of crews, vehicles and equipment in the area.
  • After the power is restored, you can safely reconnect appliances and equipment, and reset devices that operate on timers.
  • Stoughton Utilities drinking water and wastewater treatment processes will be active during an outage.
Create a Family Plan
Parents...make sure your children know what to do if an outage happens while they are home alone or with a caretaker.

Momentary Outages
Momentary outages are a sign our system is working. Occasional momentary power outages have always existed and are, in fact, an indication that our electric delivery system is operating safely and correctly. A number of conditions can affect the electric system and result in a momentary power outage:
  • Wildlife and other animals
  • Lightning, wind, ice
  • Tree branches
  • A contractor dig-in into buried facilities
What happens during a momentary outage?
Our electric system is designed to sense unsafe or unstable conditions affecting the flow of electricity on a power line - a tree branch or an animal contacting our wires, or weather conditions such as wind, ice or lightning. When the system senses a disturbance, the electric current is automatically interrupted by a device called a recloser, similar to the fuses or circuit breakers in a home. In most cases, within a few seconds, these electrical devices will instantly and safely reclose the circuit to restore power. Occasionally, the device will retrip because the problem still exists on the line. This will cause momentary interruptions and flickering lights. Normally, after three consecutive operations, the recloser locks in the open position. This results in an extended outage requiring the attention of a utility crew.

Using reclosers and other devices for temporary disturbances actually increases the reliability of the circuit. Their operation means that our system is operating exactly as it was designed in order to protect the public from hazardous situations and minimize extended power outages. Without automatic reclosing, a power interruption would continue until a utility employee could travel to the location of the problem, determine the cause and manually restore the power.

Can anything be done to minimize the impact?
There are ways customers can minimize the effect of momentary interruptions on voltage-sensitive devices or equipment. If you're a business customer, our service representatives can provide information about UPS equipment-Uninterrupted Power Supplies and about CVTs (Constant Voltage Transformers) which are used in many commercial and industrial applications to maintain service and voltage levels.

We are very concerned about power interruptions of any length - and are committed to providing safe, reliable electric service. When power is interrupted, be assured that our crews are dispatched quickly to safely restore electric power to our customers.

How Common are Momentary Outages?
The national average for momentary service interruptions is five times per customer per year. In parts of the country where lightning strikes are more common, momentary outages are more frequent. Our system is designed and maintained to help minimize the frequency of momentary outages.

Planned Outages
Our 250 mile electric delivery system requires ongoing maintenance such as equipment replacement, system rebuilds or repairs. To allow our crews to work safely and efficiently, it is sometimes necessary to interrupt power to area homes and businesses for a period of time while the work is being performed.

As a matter of routine, we make every effort to alert affected customers and communities in advance of these "planned outages" either by mail, phone or in person. Our goal is to provide information about the work being done and the date of the outage, as well as an estimate of the hours during which power will be interrupted. A typical planned outage may last only a couple of hours or, for more complicated projects, may last up to eight hours. Customers are also given phone numbers where they can call for updates on the status of the outage.

Even brief planned outages can be inconvenient, but with some planning and preparing, you and your family will be ready when our crews visit your neighborhood.

Important -- Generator Use
If you plan to use a generator, follow the manufacturer's operating instructions. Improper use of a generator can be life-threatening to you and to utility crews. Portable generators typically provide power to devices plugged directly into the unit. They must not be wired directly to a building without a professionally-installed transfer switch. This switch prevents the generator from "backfeeding" power to your wiring and to Stoughton Utilities' system once power is restored - an extremely dangerous condition.

We're Working to Maintain a Safe and Reliable System
More than 25,000 individual poles, wires, and pieces of equipment make up our 250-mile electric distribution system. Maintaining a system where the total length is equal to a trip to Chicago and back is a huge challenge. In order to provide safe, reliable service to our customers, every year portions of the system are replaced, rebuilt or repaired.

Restoring Your Power
We'll restore the power as fast as humanly possible, however safety comes first. Here's how we restore power after receiving your call:

First...
We prioritize.
Life threatening or hazardous conditions come first. If a power line has fallen on a street or on a car, for example, we direct our attention to those electric hazards first.

Next...
We fix large outages.
We repair the larger main lines and major equipment to return electric power to the largest number of customers efficiently.

Then...
We repair small, isolated outages.

Finally...
We fix secondary lines and neighborhood equipment.

Always...
We appreciate your patience.
We can't always tell you exactly when your electricity will be back on, but restoring your energy safely and efficiently is our top priority.

Where's the Crew?
You may notice that a crew working in your neighborhood leaves your area before your power is restored. That's because several fixes at various locations may need to happen before your power returns. In some cases, a crew will need to shut down damaged or hazardous equipment that may result in power outages to additional homes or businesses. Our employee's first priority is to make the situation safe for everyone.

Power Outage Causes
Power outages happen when you least expect them. Here's why most of them occur:
  1. 30% Lightning and other weather: Wind, rain, snow, heat, cold and ice.
  2. 28% Equipment wear and tear
  3. 16% Fallen trees and tree growth
  4. 11% Animal contact
  5. 7% Human Error: Underground digging, cranes, traffic, vandalism, etc.
  6. 8% Unknown and Miscellaneous: Mechanical damage, construction error, fire, etc.
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