Understanding Outages

Our commitment today and in the future is to our members. You can count on Mohave Electric Cooperative (MEC) to be there when you need us. We’re working to prevent outages when possible, restore power as quickly and safely as possible when an outage happens, and continue to look for ways to improve reliability in the future.

At Mohave Electric, we know you count on us to make sure the power is there when you flip the switch, and we work hard every day to make that happen. In fact, MEC maintains a reliability rating substantially better than the industry guideline. Outages do happen. When they do, our crews respond to restore power as quickly and safely as possible.

Outages and Restoring Power – the Basics

Members sometimes ask why some outages are only two minutes while others last several hours.

The short answer is, the length of an outage depends on many circumstances such as location, time of day, cause, system design, weather, and what equipment is needed to make repairs. Each factor plays a part in how quickly we can respond to and restore power.

A brief, momentary interruption, or a short two-minute outage, indicates the system’s automated, self-healing network has engaged to prevent a longer outage. If you experience an outage longer than two minutes, it is important to let us know. Even if other members may have reported an outage, we may not know power to your home or business is off.

The most common causes of outages are weather, birds, and trees. Outages are also caused by the public, such as vehicles driving into components of the electric system, balloons coming in contact with power lines, and digging into underground lines.

Reporting an Outage

Calling 1-844-MEC-COOP ((844) 632-2667) is the best and fastest way to report an outage and is most effective when you call the outage-reporting number from a phone number listed on your Mohave Electric account.

You can also report an outage by logging into your SmartHub ® account or use the mobile app. Want more outage information? You can set up notification features in SmartHub to receive an email or text message for outage notification, updates, and power restored.

Restoring Power – the Process and Timing

When an outage is reported, our Outage Management System directs the information to MEC lineman and field crews.

The same highly trained people you see working on the lines during the day also provide “on-call” support for an outage 24 hours a day, seven days a week. MEC has operations facilities in Bullhead City, which also serves Fort Mohave, Mohave Valley, Golden Shores, and Topock; and a facility in Kingman serving Valle Vista, Hackberry, Truxton, Peach Springs, and Wikieup.

Scheduled work hours for the operations crews are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the winter. During summer months the hours are 6:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to help avoid the hottest part of the day. If an outage is reported during scheduled work hours, MEC’s Call Center coordinates with the Operations Supervisor in Bullhead City or Kingman and relays any additional outage information reported. Information received about the outage may be specific, such as reporting a pole down with the exact location, or a member describes hearing a loud noise. The supervisor uses all the information from the reports describing the extent and location of the outage to start a process for restoration.

The supervisor reviews where crews are working at the time and decides which crew will respond. Before the crew can leave their field work area, they must stop the work in progress and be certain it is in safe, secure, and reliable condition. This usually takes 30-60 minutes to complete.

Now the crew assigned to the outage can respond to the heart of the outage area and begin looking for signs of obvious issues. The distance from the crew’s work area to the outage area will affect how long it takes to arrive at the scene.

In outlying areas such as Wikieup, it will typically take 1½ to 2 hours for the crew to reach the vicinity from MEC’s Kingman Operations Facility.

While the crew is responding, the supervisor may go to the substation, and use other communication tools to review data that can help determine a probable cause. If an outage is reported during non-scheduled work hours, MEC’s Call Center, or our contracted call center representative, coordinates with MEC’s “on-call” or standby crew.

The responding crew has 30 minutes to report to their work location in Bullhead City or Kingman. After arriving at the operations facility, crews load the Mohave Electric trucks with tools and equipment. They are ready to depart about 30 minutes later for investigation of the outage and to restore power.

The length of time required to reach the outage location is determined by its distance from the operations facility. To reach outlying areas such as Wikieup or Peach Springs adds about 90 minutes of driving time.

Once on scene, the reality is some outages are found more quickly and require less time to fix than others, which affects the duration of the outage. MEC trucks are stocked with many of the replacement items needed for outage restoration.

Sometimes special equipment is required and the crew will need to return to the operations facility and then back again to the outage location.

During periods of severe weather, there may be outages in multiple locations. Crews prioritize response efforts with an emphasis on public safety, such as downed power lines. While crews are responding to known outages, there may be additional unknown factors that can affect the power restoration process. Until we know the full extent of the damage and if there are other problem areas, it is difficult at best and more often nearly impossible to provide an estimated time of restoration.

Occasionally, outages are caused by a problem experienced by our transmission provider or power supplier. These types of outages are rare but are the responsibility of transmission or power suppliers, although MEC crews stand ready to help in these situations.

Along with determining the location and cause of an outage, crews may be able to re-route power to parts of the outage area by using circuit switching equipment in the field or at a substation.

Reliability Improvements – Past/Present/Future

Mohave Electric’s Board of Directors and management are committed to an ongoing program of reliability improvements. Our focus is on projects that help minimize the number of members affected by outage events, reduce the number of outages, and help shorten outage duration. MEC’s line-hardening projects strengthen portions of the 69 kV sub-transmission and distribution lines by replacing wood poles with steel poles in various wind-prone areas of the service territory. Installing steel poles helps prevent the domino effect of the more vulnerable wood poles breaking and falling during storms.

Other projects include improvements to overhead lines, underground electric cable, substation equipment and communication, tree and vegetation management, pole inspection, and wildlife protection and mitigation programs.

We are using technology to make outage reporting easier for members. And our field crews are using electronic tablets that give them information from our Outage Management System (OMS), and help crews locate an outage and cause for faster restoration of power. OMS and enhanced communication equipment provide important system information during and after outages, and can help spot potential problems before they create an outage.