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CVEC Outage Update – Tuesday 7AM – 3.12.13

[ 1 ] March 7, 2013 |

Nelson County, VA

We continue to update on the situation of power outages across the area. Greg Kelly with CVEC says the situation is getting better, but many repairs remain. Immediately below is Tommy’s interview with Greg late last week explaining how they go about repairs.

Here’s is the written info from CVEC as of 7AM Tuesday 3.12.13:

CVEC Outage Update: Tuesday March 12, 2013
Yesterday, crews worked to clear trees and repair significant damage, including broken poles and downed wire, at locations affecting small clusters of Co-op members, often numbering half a dozen. That process will continue today with a full complement of linemen and tree trimmers working to restore service to CVEC members as soon as possible.

CVEC Outage Update – Monday, March 11, 7:00 AM
CVEC crews a begin the day working along the hard hit areas in Fluvanna County and along the I-64 corridor with additional support from linemen and tree-trimming crews arriving from the Lovingston-based division. 1377 outages remain after dipping down to under 1200 late Sunday evening. Linemen will address the remaining damage along tap lines and small pockets of outages throughout the day.

CVEC OUTAGE UPDATE – Sunday March 10, 2013 – 7AM
2935 reported outages remain as of Sunday morning at 7:00 AM with a little more than 500 each in the Trevillians and Kidds Store substation areas and more than 300 each in the Hensons Store, Ferncliff, and Zion substations areas. Other substation areas also require work to restored power to CVEC members. Many of these are along the hard hit Interstate 64 corridor. Crews are working and will do their best to knock down those numbers and get as many members as possible back in service.

CVEC OUTAGE UPDATE – Saturday March 9, 2013
Outages numbers have dropped to 3532 after a long morning of hard work by the line crews along the tap-lines.

Linemen report significant damage and very difficult ground conditions.

The ground is very soft and, preventing access by most trucks. This is often doubling the time it takes to repair the lines, as the linemen have to walk back and forth to the trucks carrying chainsaws, and the repair materials (crossarms and transformers). Instead of using the truck boom to help cut trees and lift large sections out of the way, the men are having to cut the trees in a way that allows them to move the sections by hand. Climbing the poles and pulling everything up by hand with the help of a man on the ground and a pulley is possible – it’s the way we built the system before we had buckets and digger-derricks/material handlers. We are often (but not always) replacing crossarms, rebuilding the pole tops, and pulling the downed conductors back up with only our hands – no assistance from the truck lifts, the hydraulic tools or the electric wenches.

In comparing this to the Derecho, this past summer it was almost 100 degrees and it had not rained in weeks. During that time, our linemen drove everywhere and we were able to set up our equipment next to almost every pole.

The combination of the extensive damage plus the soft ground has extended our restoration efforts days beyond what they would otherwise be. CVEC will have many back in service today and many more on Sunday. We now know that some individual outages will be resolved early next week. We will not be cutting back our hours or releasing our outside helpers until we have everyone reconnected, but it will take longer than we expected.

For the most part, the main lines are re-energized, and crews will work on the tap lines today and tomorrow. We still have many poles to set before we get the work completed – as of last night we had almost 50 that we knew were broken. Some of those can be bypassed or temporarily repaired, but there is a LOT of work left to be done.

As CVEC clears a fault location, our Outage Management System will predict which members should have power down line, unless that member is affected by another fault location. If you receive an automated call or see that we predict that you have power and that information is not correct, please re-enter you outage information online at or by calling 800-367-2832.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this difficult time. CVEC has many extra men in the field, and we have great crews of our own. Manpower and materials are not the problem. At this point, it will just take some time to get all of the damage repaired.

CVEC Outage Update March 9, 2013 – 7:00 AM
CVEC has 4600 reported outages as crews are working on tap lines. As an outage is cleared the Outage Management System will project which down line members should have service restored and will place an automated phone call to those members if a number is on file and will change their listed status for those who check online. If there is another, unknown, fault location causing you to remain without service, please call 800-367-2832 so that we can change your status and have crews continue to work their way toward you.

As noted earlier, reports from the field indicate that there is considerable damage along the tap lines. CVEC will provide updated information as it become available throughout the day.

CVEC Outage Updates
March 8, 2013 – 6:00 PM

Of Time Lines and Outage Locations
We have had a number of members commenting that CVEC should post timelines for service restoration on maps since we know where the outages are.  While some utilities will post estimated restoration time, those times tend to be more accurate in urban/suburban neighborhoods or the areas served by Investor Owned Utilities that have the benefit of higher density and loop-fed circuits.  Those times also have a good safety margin built in.
CVEC is a rural utility with 95% residential members, some of which live in planned communities, but most live along a radial line where the density is less than 8 homes per mile.  Placing a time estimation on a neighborhood is easier than placing a time estimation on a 7 mile straight-line rural circuit that has tap-lines branching off to serve valleys, coves, and small clusters of home.  
CVEC has provided a range of restoration time for the overall system which is reflective of the difference between a rural utility with low density and an Investor Owned Utility that selected its original service territory based upon density.  IOU’s tend to have the same footprint as cable television service areas for the same reasons. 

Along with the different configuration of a rural distribution system, the assumption that CVEC knows where the outages exist is not correct.  CVEC does project how many members are affected based upon the operation of protective devices (fuses and breakers) that operate to de-energize the power line when a ground fault occurs. 

Often the two or three primary feeders that exit a substation will become de-energized as the result of an outage.  When crews arrive to make repairs, they follow the circuits out from the substations until they come to the first point that has a tree on a line, which is a fault location.  After clearing the tree and re-energizing the line, electricity flows, perhaps to the end of the circuit or more probably to the next fault location where another protective device will operate.  

Like clearing a mountain trail of fallen trees, the crews will not know how many trees have fallen, how many poles have been broken or how long the repairs will take until the crew actually reaches the end of the line and the re-energized line holds without tripping off.  That process comprises one time estimate 

Once that occurs, crews return to the tap lines, check to see if the fuses at the beginning have blown, in which case the crews proceed down the tap lines in the same manner, clearing and rebuilding as they go.  This process would comprise a second time estimate after the first process is complete. 
Once the tap lines have been cleared crews return to address individual outages.  This process comprises the third and final time estimate once the second process is complete. 

Given the configuration of the system and this restoration process, there are multiple time frames based upon whether the crew is working on the primary circuit, the tap lines or individual services and those time frames will vary based upon the unknown quantity of fault locations, which will only be counted once restoration work is complete. 

In looking at the outage map, CVEC provides overall outage numbers in each substation.  Progress has been slow along the primary circuits given the extraordinary level of damage and the terrible ground conditions, but outages numbers dropped from 25,000 on day one and they dropped to 8,000 by the end of day two.  We will see what progress can be made by midnight of day three. 
Hopefully, this information helps members understand why a rural radial distribution system is different and why overall times estimates are more appropriate than individual or neighborhood restoration estimates given the configuration of the system, the restoration process, and the unknown number of downed trees and damage locations along the way.
CVEC thanks our members for their patience and appreciation and asks that those member struggling with the loss of electric service to understand the magnitude of the damage and the effort required to rebuild significant damage and destruction that resulted from the storm.
Central Virginia Electric Cooperative is a member-owned, not-for-profit, electric utility serving the rural portions of 14 Virginia counties.

March 8, 2013 – 11:00 AM
Central Virginia Electric Cooperative Outage Status and Response to Questions & Comments
CVEC is down to 6960 reported outages and is shifting crews from southern portion of the service territory to assist with outage in other areas.  As power is restored along a circuit, the Outage Management System uses predictive analysis to list members who should have power restored unless there is another unknown fault location.  If you receive a call or see online that we predict that your service has been restored but your are still without power, please re-enter the outage online.

 What did we find in the field yesterday?
The men reported slow going and a high level of  damage in the field yesterday.  They also reported regular interruptions from members who stopped them to ask about service restoration efforts.  It only takes five minutes to chat with a member, but if that happens 30 times in 18 hours, we have lost almost three hours of production.  Members should report downed trees and conductors and ask question through our office personnel, leaving the men in the field to maximize the efforts to restore service.  Please communicate this in a soft, warm way to our members.

 What do we expect today?
We still have lots of work to do.  We have 20 poles left to replace in the Lovingston division and another 20 in the Palmyra division.  We have literally hundreds of spans of wire on the ground, with each coming from broken crossarms or other pole top damage.  Each location requires tree cutting and clearing, pole top construction, and wire repair and reinstallation.  In many cases, when we complete work in an area we energize less than fifty houses.  Most of the locations cannot be accessed by truck due to the softness of the ground, so we are spending time carrying in equipment and materials.
The outage total should drop significantly today and many member will have service restored as fault locations are cleared along the primary circuits and tap lines.  Once that is complete crews will focus on individual outage after clearing the primary lines that feed those members.  That work will extend into the weekend.  Keep in mind, that repairing damage that affects a single member when there are fault locations up line will not restore service to that member.

 Who is working?
We have crews from multiple cooperatives in Tennessee and Kentucky, plus crews from Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative, Prince George Electric Cooperative, Norther Virginia and Northern Neck Electric Cooperative in the state.  Our Appomattox division is completing their restoration this morning and those crews will also be dispatched into the Palmyra division.  We have contract right of way crews clearing the tree in some areas as well.
Please keep in mind that some crews are cutting away trees, others are patrolling lines, while others are dedicated to reconstruction.  Some may be assigned to an individual service.  Each has a specific assignment in a coordinated restoration plan.  While it is tempting to stop them for an update, all will tell you about the extensive damage but few can provide an accurate prediction since they are focused on specific tasks.
Questions and Comments
 Q:  I called the 800-367-2832 number but could not get through
A:  Verizon dropped our service during the first two days of the outage.  Service was restored on Thursday evening.  If you are unable to reach us today or beyond, it is due to high call volumes.  CVEC also works with a group that will handle our call overflow if we have sufficient outbound lines available.
Q:  Why can’t the Co-op give me a definite time?
A:  Electricity flows to a member from the substation along a path that includes primary lines, tap lines and then service lines.  Much of the path is shared but as the lines split off, the path become differentiated as it approaches the members home.  There was so much damage in the field, much of it still to be discovered that a time estimate for an individual is speculative.  Utilities that provide time estimates for an individual either have suffered less damage or are willing to provide an estimated time with no guarantee of meeting that deadline.  If CVEC provided individual time estimates, they would be based upon information that includes too many variables and would cause frustration if the estimated time was not accurate.

Q:  Why did CVEC do more to prevent this damage?
A:  The Co-op spends $1.5 million per year on right-of-way maintenance, to clear trees below and along the power lines in a 40-foot right-of-way corridor.  Frankly, we do a better job than the major power companies that intermingle with our system.  However, CVEC has less people per line mile and more trees growing outside of our right-of-way that we cannot touch.  It is those trees that have fallen into our lines and cause all of the damage.
Q:  I am frustrated and think that this is just unacceptable.
A:  That is understandable and crews are working as efficiently and as long as possible, often with the benefit of equipment.  The reality if that our service territory, similar to ones to the north, suffered damage comparable to a natural disaster. 

 No one wants to be without electric service but clean-up and repair cannot be accomplished in a matter of hours over 4,500 miles of power line.  Restoration times will vary from a few hours for those who were fortunate not to have trees fall in the path that serves them to five days for the unfortunate who have perhaps a dozen trees fall, put line on the ground in multiple locations and break 3-4 poles along the path that serves them.
CVEC understands the importance of electric service, understands the frustration that a loss of service causes, and is working diligently and efficiently to respond to damage that is as severe as a major hurricane.

We also thank those members who have demonstrated patience and understanding.

Central Virginia Electric Cooperative is a member-owned, not-for-profit, electric utility serving the rural portions of 14 Virginia counties.

March 8, 2013 – 7::00 AM

Central Virginia Electric Cooperative Outage Status
Outages numbers are down to 8,000 as of 6:00 a.m. on Friday, March 8.
More than 40 crews made good progress while working late into the night on Thursday and expect to reduce outage numbers today, despite difficult and dangerous off-road conditions. Field conditions do not permit off-road vehicles in many areas, meaning that crews must carry in materials and perform repairs without the benefit of trucks or equipment.
CVEC was hard hit by the March snowstorm finding damages comparable to those associated with a major Hurricane, causing outage for 25,000 member or about 70% of the total membership.
Significant outages remain the in following substation service areas:
• Cartersville in northern Cumberland County: 1362 outages out of 1362 members served
• Kidds Store in southwestern Fluvanna County: 1180 outages out of 1910 members served
• Martins Store in Nelson County: 917 outages out of 3986 members served
• Whitehall in western Albemarle County: 762 outages out of 3986 members served
• Trevillians in Louisa County: 726 outages as of 726 members served
• Shannon Hill in Goochland: 609 outages as of 609 members served
• Zions in Fluvanna: 547 outages of 2638 members served
• Columbia in Cumberland County: 456 outages out of 456 members served.
Note: Substation areas can cross county boundaries. Find you substation area on the outage map at
In addition, 17 other substation service areas contain reported outages that need to be addressed. Crews will work on many of these today, making repairs along the primary circuits and the tap lines that branch off to serve local neighborhoods and other areas. This strategy will get as many members back in service as soon as possible. Individual outages will be finalized on Saturday and Sunday if necessary.
We have many extra crews from Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky plus several tree clearing crews helping in addition to all CVEC employees. We have worked with Verizon to get our telephone problems corrected and the toll free line (800-367-2832) is the best line to call to report outages or locations with downed conductor.
CVEC thanks our members for their patience and appreciation and asks that those member struggling with the loss of electric service to understand the magnitude of the damage and the effort required to rebuild from significant damage and destruction that resulted from the storm.
Central Virginia Electric Cooperative is a member-owned, not-for-profit, electric utility serving the rural portions of 14 Virginia counties.

March 7, 2013 – 10:00 PM

Central Virginia Electric Cooperative Outage Status
Outages are down from 25,000 to 9,000 as of 9:30 p.m. on the second day of the March 2013 Winter Storm. 
Crews in the field report damages that are comparable to Hurricane Isabel in 2003 with ground conditions that are much worse the day after the storm.  Many repairs do not permit off-road vehicles meaning that crews must carry in materials and perform repairs without the benefit of trucks or equipment.  That was not the case after the hurricane, but that is not apparent unless one is in the field and following the crews.
 CVEC is proceeding with an organized and effective power restoration plan despite difficult and dangerous conditions in the field.  Outage numbers will drop by the end of today and many more on Friday.
So what happens next?
We will have crews on every line that still has outages.  If you are out of service, we are working toward you.  Our goal is to get service restored to the most members the quickest.  The work will go on at least through Saturday and possibly carry over to Sunday.
 For the one or two three-phase lines that have not been completely restored, including circuits from Shannon Hill and Columbia and the end of the Afton circuit from Martins Store, we will be working to energize those main lines first.
 In all other areas, we will be working the tap lines that branch off the main lines one after the other again with the goal of getting the most accounts back in service.  This is most effective manner of restoring service.  The work completed on Saturday and Sunday will generally be the worst damaged small taps.
 The going is very slow at this point.  The number of trees on the lines, and the number of areas where the lines are torn down, has far exceeded any predictions prior to the storm.  Often, two hours of work results in energizing only twenty to forty members.  To complete restoration to the more than 9000 who are off will take a lot of effort and many hours.  This is very different than other storms that allowed large main lines to be restored that would re-energize 500 to 1000 accounts at a time in the early part of the restoration cycle.
 We have many extra crews from Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky plus several tree clearing crews helping in addition to all CVEC employees.  We have worked with Verizon to get our telephone problems corrected and the toll free line (800-367-2832) is the best line to call to report outages or locations with downed conductor.
CVEC thanks our members for their patience and appreciation and asks that those member struggling with the loss of electric service to understand the magnitude of the damage and the effort required to rebuild significant damage and destruction that resulted from the storm.
Lastly, we apologize to members who were unable to reach us by telephone.  Verizon has assured us that our toll-free service has been restored.
 Central Virginia Electric Cooperative is a member-owned, not-for-profit, electric utility serving the rural portions of 14 Virginia counties.

Here’s is the written info from CVEC as of 5PM Thursday:

March 7, 2013 – 5:00 PM
Central Virginia Electric Cooperative Outage Status
CVEC has 40 crews working to restore service along 3-phase lines, the major circuits that exit substations in order to get power restored to the most people as soon as possible.  Other crews are working on tap lines, the single phase lines that branch off from the primary feeder lines.
Our goal is to have the 3-phase lines clear by the end of today and all of the single phase lines clear by tomorrow night, leaving outages that affect individual members for completion on Saturday and Sunday if necessary.
CVEC has 10,000 members without power.  Reports from the field indicate that the damage to the distribution system is comparable to what we saw during Hurricane Isabel in 2003.  And similar to a hurricane, the day after the event often presents beautiful weather, making it difficult to understand why power is not available.
For any given member, there is a good probability that there are 5 or more fault locations between the substation and the member’s home.  A tree on a power line, a line on the ground, a broken pole, each fault location blocks the flow of power until repairs are made at that trouble site and everyone other fault location down line.
While every member wants a time estimate on power restoration, the reality is that crews are working their way toward each member and are finding multiple fault locations as they proceed.
CVEC should know more as the crews make progress this evening, allowing us to provide revised estimate of the overall restoration process.
CVEC has seen issues with our toll-free number has another ticket open with Verizon. Until that is resolved, please report outages online at, where you can also track restoration progress by viewing the outage status map.  Members who are unable to reach us on the web page can report an outage by e-mailing:
Central Virginia Electric Cooperative is a member-owned, not-for-profit, electric utility serving the rural portions of 14 Virginia counties.

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  1. Janice Fischer says:

    Still out in my part of Mountain Rd. though most of the area is back on-line. We’re still in good spirits but I must admit this is getting old. Still, it’s a tough job they have and I’m grateful to them.

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