Frequently Asked Questions
When a power outage occurs, our employees work as quickly as they can to assess problems, reroute power, dispatch crews and restore service as soon as possible. We understand the inconvenience of being without power and pledge to do our best to minimize power outages and maximize energy reliability to our customers.
In the event of a power outage, you can reach us by calling our 24-hour emergency hotline at (209) 883-8301.
There are some steps you can take to be sure that it’s not just your home that’s without power. Sometimes, it’s as simple as resetting a breaker to get your power restored. However, there are instances where the power may be out for a period of time.
The following questions are most frequently asked by customers during a prolonged outage.
Yes, please. If your home or business is the only facility in the area without power, the problem may be with your circuit breaker box or service panel. Carefully locate your service panel and check to see if the main circuit breaker has flipped to the “off” or “trip” position. If your power is still out after resetting the circuit breaker, contact our Service Division at 883-8301. On many occasions, checking your breaker is the very first task we’ll instruct you to perform when you call.
In many cases, customers and the valuable information they provide are our first line of defense in getting power restored. If your power goes out for more than a few minutes, safely follow these steps to help us restore power to your home or business:
- Check to see if other homes or businesses within your neighborhood are without power, whether by talking to neighbors or taking a glance outside. If others around you have lost power, your area is likely part of a larger outage. If this is the case, the outage has likely been reported to us and crews are probably en route to identify and fix the problem. If you wish, you can contact our Service Division at 883-8301 and you will be given information regarding the outage and estimated time power is expected to be restored, if available.
- If your home or business is the only facility in the area without power, the problem may be with your circuit breaker box or service panel. Cautiously locate your service panel and check to see if the main circuit breaker has flipped to the “off” or “trip” position. If your power is still out after resetting the circuit breaker, contact our Service Division at 883-8301.
- If you live in an apartment complex or mobile home park, please notify your property manager prior to calling us. If the outage does not affect the entire complex, your property management maintenance person will contact us if they need us to disconnect power for repairs.
- While you await power to be restored, try to turn off all lights, switches, and surge protectors to the off positions, with the exception of one light, so that you will avoid electrical overload but will know when power comes back on.
- In the event of a medical or public safety emergency, please call 911 immediately.
Know where your manual release lever of your garage door opener is and how to use it. See your door’s owner’s manual or consult their website for instructions on using the manual release. **CAUTION – Using the release when the door is in the open position can be dangerous. Consult your owner’s manual for details and safety information.**
We have staff monitoring our electrical system 24 hours a day – 365 days a year. When we’re alerted of an outage, our staff verifies the accuracy of the information, and dispatches a troubleshooter or repair crew to investigate and repair the problem, all while rerouting power to isolate the outage to a minimum amount of customers. Our staff also fields calls from customers experiencing power loss and develops phone messaging to provide timely and pertinent information to customers.
In terms of order of response, power outages are prioritized as follows:
- The highest priority items are safety hazards, such as wires or poles down
- Next are outages affecting large numbers of customers
- Lastly are outages affecting fewer customers
Do not approach it or anything that is touching it. Call 911 and inform the operator that you believe there is an electrical emergency. Always assume that all wires, regardless of being connected or disconnected, are energized. Do not attempt to clear branches or debris from downed power lines or fallen power poles. Further electrical safety tips are located on our Electrical Safety Tips page.
Where can I locate resources about outage safety?
In the event of a significant unplanned outage, we work quickly to record a detailed phone message on our service line at 883-8301 so customers reporting their outage have accurate and timely information. This message is updated as the details of the outage become available or the status changes. Our Outages page is also a good source of information.
Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for several hours. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours. For more information about food from Ready.gov, click here.
If it’s safe to do so, consider unplugging sensitive electronics to protect them from a momentary power “surge” that can damage computers and other devices. Consider adding good quality surge protection to your electronic equipment.
Unplanned outages can occur at any time, and can be caused by weather elements like wind, rain, heat, ice, lightning, and snow. Vehicles colliding with power poles cause numerous outages in our electrical service territory each year. Untrimmed trees and their limbs also wreak havoc on power lines, especially overhead service lines leading from wood poles to individual homes and businesses. Animals and balloons have also been known to cause power outages by coming into contact with electrical equipment. Natural disasters like earthquakes, even if the epicenter is not in the region, can cause outages. Various types of digging or excavation, large or small, can disturb underground wires and conduit.
Planned outages are necessary when we work on certain projects to improve the strength and reliability of the electrical system. In the event of any planned outage, customers are notified in person or by way of door hangers at their service address multiple days prior to the planned outage.
We continually monitor, maintain and update the electrical system to ensure it provides safe and reliable power. Among other tasks, we’re responsible for trimming trees around our high voltage lines throughout the District. Our staff periodically patrols the District’s transmission and distribution lines to ensure they are free of potential hazards and in proper working order. Also, many projects each year help to upgrade and replace critical components of the electrical system, making sure the system is safe and able to provide reliable power to all our customers.
Most outdoor lights mounted on buildings are privately owned and maintained. Most outdoor lights on metal poles are maintained by the city or county in which the pole resides. Lights on wood poles are maintained by various entities. An identification number on the light helps to determine responsibility for maintenance.
Should you have a dusk-to-dawn light that we maintain (if you do, you are receiving a separate energy bill from us specifically for lighting) please call our Service Division at 883-8301. It is also possible that a dusk to dawn light is not working because no one has signed up to receive service to the light.