Power Outage FAQs

Q: Why does my neighbor have power and I don't? 

A: There may be damage to the service wires leading only to your home. These wires don't affect your neighbor's electric supply.

Your neighbor's home may be served by a different circuit or feed than your home, even though you're right next door. The homes and businesses on our system are not connected in a series like the dot-to-dot game you played as a child; they are connected more like a spider web.

There may also be as many as three different "hot lines" (phases) on the pole in front of your home. Your neighbor may get service from a different "hot line" than you. A problem down the street that's affecting the same phase as your home could be keeping the power off for all homes attached to that particular "hot line." 

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Q: A Walton EMC truck just drove right by my house and didn't stop. Why? 

A: The crew you saw was probably working on getting the backbone of the electric system repaired. Our first priority in a catastrophic outage is to get the main circuits (or trunk lines) back in operation.

Not every wire out on the street is considered a main circuit. There are thousands of lines that feed off of main circuits (these feeder wires are also called "taps"). So after the main trunks are "back hot," we start repairing taps.

After trunk lines are functioning, we make repairs that affect the most people at one time. This means repairs that affect only one or two locations will probably be last.

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Q: I have underground wires to my house. Why did my power go off? 

A: Even though the wires in your subdivision or from the street to your home are buried, overhead wires bring electricity to those underground wires from the substation. The distance from the substation to your subdivision could be miles.

As new homes are built, it is reasonably economical to bury the wires that serve them. But it would cost millions and millions of dollars to tear down our existing overhead lines and then re-install them underground.

Even though your power was out, your underground wiring still helped you avoid problems.

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Q: I tried and tried to call Walton EMC and all I got was a busy signal. Do you take the phone off the hook during large outages? 

A: Absolutely not. On a normal day, Walton EMC receives about 1,000 calls. We are staffed to handle this volume on an efficient basis. A large outage can increase the amount of phone traffic exponentially.

For example, on January 24, 2000, during Ice Jam 2000, we took over 28,000 calls, almost 30 times the normal volume. It doesn't make financial sense to keep the staffing on hand necessary to answer this number of calls for a once-in-twenty-year occurrence. 
Walton EMC does have plans in place to handle large call volumes that occur on a rare basis. We bring a special computer on line that can answer hundreds of calls at once and pool phones into the call center group that allows other employees to answer outage calls. Our Internet reporting system is a good way to let us know about your outage.

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Q: I'm on the priority list because of a medical condition. Why isn't my power restored instantly? 

A: Walton EMC can't guarantee your electric service. Things beyond our control, like ice storms and car-power pole accidents, will always tear down power lines and disrupt the flow of electricity.

That's why members who depend on electrical equipment for a medical necessity should always have alternate plans in place in case the power goes out for an extended amount of time. This may include a backup power source, extra medical supplies or an alternate location until the outage is over. Make sure supplies of prescription drugs are adequate and have a first-aid kit on-hand.

And even though we give these accounts priority, we must still repair the damage to the backbone of our electric system before we can turn attention to individual priority accounts. 

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Learn More: 

Outage Reporting Tips
ready.gov's "Make a Plan"
“Get Prepared” with the American Red Cross
What Should Be Discarded After an Outage?


Generator Operation (YouTube)
Restoring Your Power (YouTube)

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