Nebraska power companies prepare ahead of potential wintry mix

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Crews from the Nebraska Public Power District and Lincoln Electric System are just some among many eyeing the forecast for freezing rain and ice on Thursday.

“They just make sure everything is clean, make sure the trucks are gassed up,” said Grant Otten, spokesman for NPPD. “They’re obviously aware that the weather is going to be out there, and so there is a potential they may have to respond to outages. But we’re always prepared for those situations, and certainly, it’s more on their radar as we get these types of forecasts coming in.”

SEE ALSO: Winter Weather Advisories for Thursday in Nebraska

As trucks get squared away for the day, power companies make sure their system is good to go so notifications will alert crews of outages as they happen.

Protocol includes attending to downed power lines and lines that have accrued ice.

“There’s limits to what that system can do, but they know generally where something is happening,” Otten said. “And they can go out and get more information, figure out what’s happening and try to get the customers back online as quick as possible.”

LES said the average outage time per customer in 2021 was about 17 minutes, which is 85% lower than the five-year national average of just under two hours.

SEE ALSO: LES says outages should be reported online amid phone system problems

Half an inch of ice can add up to 500 pounds of extra weight to power lines.

Ice can also increase the weight of tree branches by up to 30 times.

Along those lines, tree branches, power lines and poles can fall, so power companies keep this in mind as they prepare.

Otten said people should report anything “that doesn’t look right,” like a broken pole or power line.

“Maybe the line is still operating but the pole is just kind of leaning over,” he said. “We certainly encourage people to call us and let us know about that stuff.”

Power companies stress that customer communication is important during these times, keeping safety a top priority.

Around Lincoln, LES says to call and report power outages or downed power lines, whether the neighbors have or have not. You can call 1-888-365-2412 at any time.

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