What caused the December power outages in Moran?

Published 3:17 am Tuesday, January 3, 2023

MORAN – Nearly everyone in this region saw their lights go out just before Christmas. But for one part of Prince Edward County, the problem started several weeks beforehand. The Moran area, near the intersection of Piney Grove Road and Moran Road, reported three December power outages, starting on Dec. 12. Now that things have calmed down after the Christmas storm, the Southside Electric Cooperation (SEC) has explained what triggered those earlier outages. 

SEC officials said the first outage to take place was due to aerial tree trimming, which took place during the week of Dec. 12. This is a preventive action done to improve electrical reliability for SEC members by removing limbs hanging over the power lines. The trimming took place around Genito Road off Highway 460 and as work happened, some of the lines had to be taken down anyway, in order to get to the trees. SEC officials say they’ve cleared 175 miles with aerial trimming this year. 

“SEC works diligently to keep outages to a minimum. All the while, we are dedicated to improving the reliability of our system for our member-owners,” said Jennifer Wall. She works as a communications specialist with SEC. “Two of these outages were planned outages, meaning our membership would have been notified to their telephone number on file with SEC.”

How do planned power outages work?

In an unexpected outing, as a result of the trimming, a phase disconnected from the insulator in the middle of the night following the trimming. Once notified, the SEC crews found the fault and restored the power quickly and safely as possible. 

The other planned power outage was due to upgrading the system. The Moran project was identified by SEC for a conductor upgrade to ensure increased capacity to serve members’ increasing demands for electricity.

This is part of the SEC’s proactive construction work plan for its members. This process includes professional engineers and operations personnel regularly reviewing and analyzing the system for necessary upgrades. Before these upgrades, SEC members are notified of the outages in advance. 

“These types of infrastructure maintenance and improvement activities are important in SEC’s effort to improve the power delivery experience for our members,” said Wall.  “At times these activities will result in service interruptions, which is why we notify our members in advance.  It is important that our members keep their contact information up to date with SEC, so they can receive these notifications.”

Cleaning up after Elliott

Not even a week after these planned outages, Winter Storm Elliot came on Friday, Dec. 23 and kept the SEC busy with plenty of unexpected ones. During the course of the storm, the SEC crews worked to restore power to more than 18,000 of its members. All power was restored by 1:03 a.m. on Christmas Day.  

“Christmas is a time for giving, togetherness and faith,” said Jason Loehr, SEC president and CEO. “Our team came together and gave back the gift of power to our members when Mother Nature tried to take it away.  From the lineworkers and member service representatives to everyone else behind the scenes supporting the restoration, I could not be prouder of our team in the effort made to safely restore over 18,000 interrupted services by Christmas morning.”