Although NB Power does everything in its power to prevent them, outages do happen and we know customers have a lot of questions about how we go about power outages and Power Restoration. We've answered the most common of these questions here for your quick and easy access:
- What should I do if the power goes out?
- Does NB Power know if my power is out?
- How does power distribution work in New Brunswick?
- How does NB Power go about restoring power during an outage?
- During a large-scale outage, what determines who gets power restored first?
- How does NB Power prepare for outages?
- What should I do to prepare for outages?
- Why do some houses near me have power, but mine doesn't?
- How long will I be without power?
The first thing to do if the power goes out in your home is to check if some of your neighbours are also experiencing an outage. If none of your neighbors are out of power, and the power line going to your home is intact, you may be experiencing a problem with a breaker or fuse in your home.
Report an Outage on the web, on your mobile device or call 1-800-663-6272. It will be easier if you have your NB Power Customer Account Number ready when you call because this will help us identify your exact location on our system. (Your Customer Account Number is located on Page 1 of your monthly NB Power bill.)
Our operators may be busy if an outage affects a large area, and we appreciate your patience. If you know the cause of an outage, such as downed power lines or poles, please stay on the phone to report the information and stay at least 10 metres (33 feet) away from fallen power lines.
Remember you can always Report an Outage via the web or your mobile device.
Not necessarily. If an outage's source is a generating station or transmission line or terminal, then NB Power will know immediately that there is an outage and begin steps to restore power.
However, if an outage's source is a downed distribution line – which is often the case in a smaller-scale outage – NB Power may not have any way of knowing about the outage until a customer calls to advise us of the situation.
Please use Search for an Outage to determine if the outage for your location has already been reported. This information is updated every 10 minutes.
Below is a description of the different parts of NB Power’s transmission and distribution systems through which power travels to get from the generating stations to your home:
- Generating Station - This is where power is produced. NB Power has generating stations located throughout the province. Transformers at the stations increase the power’s voltage for delivery into the system.
- Terminal - Terminals increase or decrease the voltage as necessary and allow for isolation of problem areas by rerouting energy through the transmission system.
- Transmission lines - NB Power’s 6700km of transmission lines carry high voltage electricity throughout the province. These are the lines that travel to and from the large metal transmission towers you may have seen throughout the province.
- Substations - Substations serve two purposes: They step down the voltage of the power for distribution to customers, and they separate the power through multiple lines so it can reach different areas.
- Distribution Lines - The lines you see along the street in front of your house are distribution lines. These lines carry the power from the substation into your home. Transformers on the poles step down the voltage to the appropriate level so it is ready for home use.
Electricity must travel in a direct route from the generating station to the home. If any of the different parts of NB Power’s distribution system fail, it will prevent power from flowing to the next part of the system, thus causing an outage.
For example, if a transmission line were to go down, that would prevent power from reaching the substation, distribution lines, and the homes attached to those lines.
Here is the process NB Power goes through when a customer calls to report an outage:
1. Customer experiences an outage and has reported the outage via web, mobile device or telephone.
2.Your outage information is entered into the Outage Management System.
3. With the information provided by the customer, it is prioritized (see During a large-scale outage, what determines who gets power restored first?). The System Operator dispatches resources.
4. Linesman identifies problem and proceeds to safely restore power.
5. Customer's power is restored.
During an outage, you may notice that some areas have power restored before others. This can happen because many different faults can cause an outage. Whenever this happens, NB Power must prioritize which faults will be addressed first. NB Power will direct their resources to address the following issues in order of importance:
- Areas where loss of power could be life-threatening and live broken power lines;
- Hospitals and Nursing homes;
- Emergency Measures Organization;
- Areas with broken power lines that have fallen;
- Areas offering the largest benefit for the least effort.
As an example, let’s look at the simplified diagram below:
In this example, we have a fault in a transmission line (1) and a transformer on a distribution line (2). In this example, since there are no fallen lines, the transmission line would be repaired first, as more homes would receive power once the transmission line is restored. Afterwards, the distribution line would be repaired.
In an actual large-scale outage, there can be many areas such as transmission lines or substations that need to be repaired before proceeding further down the line, which is why it sometimes can take days to restore power to your home. NB Power works around the clock until power is restored, so please be patient when an outage does occur.
NB Power takes many steps in order to be ready to respond to an outage, as well as help minimize the effects of outages. These steps include:
- Having a fully developed plan that covers all contingencies and includes local plans for each region. All these plans are reviewed yearly and after every storm.
- Knowing the potential risks helps NB Power better prepare for events such as Ice, Snow and Wind storms, forest fires and major system disturbances.
- Training helps keep NB Power workers ready for any event. By using pre-planned scenarios, NB Power can better prepare its employees to restore power as quickly as possible while working as safely as possible.
- Preventative maintenance such as tree trimming near power lines, line patrols and equipment maintenance (e.g. transformers and power lines).
- NB Power has mutual agreements with other utilities and contractors to increase resources during major events.
There are a few things that you can do to help prepare your household for an outage:
- Keep a flashlight, lantern and safety lightsticks in a handy location.
- Have a battery-powered radio handy to listen for outage updates.
- Dress warmly and keep your doors and windows closed.
- Avoid opening your refrigerator or freezer; food should keep for several hours if the door is kept closed.
- Ensure that any back-up heating unit is properly vented and in good working order. While your power is out, turn down your electric heat, unplug portable heaters and turn off major appliances such as stoves, washers and dryers.
When your power has been restored, please use it sparingly during the first few hours to avoid a system overload and to prevent further outages.
To avoid fires after power is restored, ensure your oven and burners are turned off.
If you have a generator, you can ensure that it is ready for use by having a qualified electrician install a "Transfer Switch" between your electrical panel and generator. By having it connected per the Canadian Electrical Code, it will prevent household occupants from getting a shock and also possible "backfeed" which presents a shock hazard to NB Power line workers. Ensure that your generator is in a well ventilated area.
Situations like this can often occur during an outage. Different sides of the same street can be fed power from different parts of the distribution system.
In this example, a fault at the red substation causes an outage to all homes connected to it, while the homes on the blue line - which is a different part of the system - are unaffected.
It is also important to verify if your home is the only home without power. If that is the case, you may have fuses or circuit breakers in your home that have tripped to stop power flow or you could have a problem with the electrical entrance to your house. This needs to be addressed by a qualified electrician.
Since every outage is different, it is difficult to tell how long a customer will be without power. NB Power always attempts to estimate how long it will take to restore power to specific areas, and these estimates are given to the local media to share with customers.
The best way to stay informed during an outage is to keep a battery operated radio handy and listen for outage updates on your local radio station.