Brief power interruptions prevent sustained outages.
There’s no two ways about it – blinks are bothersome. A flashing digital alarm clock or Wi-Fi drop-off is enough to annoy even the most patient person.
But believe it or not, blinks are a key component of a properly operating electrical system. They save you – and your co-op – time, money, and trouble. In short, they’re more help than hindrance when it comes to maintaining power quality and keeping your lights on.
Blinks are usually the result of protective equipment clearing a fault. Faults occur when an object – usually a tree limb – touches a power line. That’s when our distribution system’s self-defense mechanism kicks in – and your lights blink.
On again, off again
Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative’s distribution system is equipped with protective devices known as oil circuit reclosers (OCRs), or breakers. OCRs respond to faults through a series of internal switching operations.
When a fault occurs, a relay directs the OCR to open a switch, interrupting power to the fault location. This momentary interruption gives the fault an opportunity to break contact, or clear itself from the power line.
After a second or two, the OCR switch closes. While the switch is open, homes and businesses on that part of the electric line experience a blink.
If the interruption clears the fault, the power stays on. You don’t have to call for assistance, and no linemen are dispatched.
If the fault is still present, the process repeats. After three attempts, the OCR switch remains open, resulting in an outage. At this point, you’re no longer dealing with a blink. You’re without power. You and other member/owners on that section of line call us, and we dispatch linemen to investigate, make repairs, and restore power.
Limiting momentary outages is a high priority for Eastern Illini. For years, we have pursued an aggressive right-of-way maintenance program to keep trees and branches clear of power lines.
Have blinks always occurred?
Yes! Many of today’s electronics require a constant, uninterrupted supply of power to run properly. Back in the day, we didn’t have digital clocks, DVRs, and coffeemaker displays flashing 12:00 when our power blinked. Today we do, making blinks more obvious.
You can help
As a member/owner of Eastern Illini, you can help us keep blinks to a minimum. Please be mindful of power lines and stay clear of the right-of-way when you’re planting trees. If you notice trees or limbs growing too close to our lines, we’d appreciate a call. You can reach us at 800-824-5102.
If you’re experiencing an unusual number of blinks at your home, please let us know that as well.
You can also take steps to avoid some of the frustration that accompanies momentary outages. Consider purchasing an alarm clock equipped with a battery backup.When the power blinks, your clock doesn’t, and you’re less likely to find yourself waking up late for school or work.
If the power blinks while you’re on your computer, you can lose your data. Plugging your PC into an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) will help protect your work. The UPS will keep your PC running so you have time to save your data and get your computer shut down.