Electrical TipsSafety tips and much more...
From computers, TV’s and stereos to microwave ovens and automatic coffee makers, our homes and offices are filled with devices that were only the dreams of futurists generations ago. Most of these popular modern appliances are controlled by microprocessors — tiny, delicate silicon chips and circuit boards. These “electronic brains” operate on precise voltages and are more sensitive to variations in utility power supply than appliances from a generation ago.
When there is a power interruption the microprocessors lose their “memory”– or data. The interruptions are typically so brief ordinary lights will not dim or flicker. In effect, the only thing that “sees” the power variation is the microprocessor.
You may find them annoying, but those digits flashing “12:00” on your VCR, microwave or clock radio — sometimes called “eternal midnight” — mean that one of the safety devices installed by your co-op to protect you and your co-op’s system has done its job.
The device, named an oil-circuit recloser, acts like a self-resetting circuit breaker. It “opens” and interrupts power for a moment when a short circuit caused by a tree branch, small animal or weather -related problem occurs on the section of line it protects. The recloser waits a short time and “recloses,” returning power to the line.
If the short circuit is gone the recloser stays closed and power flows to your home. If the problem persists after three tries, the recloser “locks open” to prevent property damage or personal injury until the problem can be investigated. Reclosers and the switches that route power are essential to the safe delivery of electricity. Unfortunately, they may also cause your clocks to blink.
It is important to remember that rural electric cooperative power lines are sited through forests, over mountains and across rivers. The lines are constantly exposed to natural conditions that present challenges for providing error free operation.
Steps can be taken to minimize the potential inconvenience caused by a momentary power outage. These steps can be as simple as purchasing appliances — like clock radios, VCRs and microwaves — that have a battery back-up system built in. Other electric loads such as computers, printers and facsimile machines can be plugged into an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system. A UPS system is essentially a plug-in battery back-up and will keep a device running for 15 to 20 minutes during any power interruption. This provides an opportunity to save data before it is lost.
Other Quality Problems
Electrical transients, or spikes, are usually associated with lighting strikes.
Sags are slight decreases in voltage usually caused by start-up of larger equipment, such as a large electric motor in your home or in a business down the road. Swells are slight increases in voltage usually caused by the shut down of larger equipment in your home or in a home or business down the road. Electrical noise, often noticed as static on a radio or a fuzzy picture on television, is caused by appliances with electric motors such as vacuum cleaners, water pumps, power tools and blenders.
Electricity provides our homes and businesses with a host of benefits. Many of the activities we take for granted would be impossible without the help of this powerful energy source.
The power of electricity is appreciated for the help it brings in heating and cooling our homes, providing light and refrigeration and opening the door to worldwide information via our televisions and computers. But that enormous power can pose a danger to property and people. That’s why it’s important to treat electricity and electric appliances with respect and caution.
As with most accidents, those involving electricity usually stem from carelessness and lack of knowledge. To learn more about specific hazards, please choose from the topics listed in the right-hand menu.
Causes of Outages
Electric service can be interrupted by many events. Lightning strikes from thunderstorms, high wind, heavy snowfall or ice can cause major disruptions. Other events might include:
Automobile accidents involving power poles
Animals such as squirrels shorting power equipment
Digging without checking for underground lines
Customers should be prepared for these outages to help minimize their effect.
Preparing for Outages
Put together an emergency kit and keep it accessible. Include several flashlights, a battery powered radio or TV, and spare batteries. Test the flashlights and batteries on a regular basis to ensure their operation when needed. Be careful if you decide to use candles and/or storm lamps for emergency lighting.
Those of you who have a generator should follow all safety procedures for its use. Never connect the generator into your circuit breaker or fuse box. Backfeed from even a very small generator can be deadly if it reaches Wellsboro Electric Company’s linemen. Linemen have been electrocuted by the backfeed from generators.
Lightning strikes from thunderstorms can cause surges in your home’s electrical wiring. To prevent damage, unplug devices such as computers, microwaves, TVs and stereos. Snow and ice storm outages may prevent your home from being heated. Be sure to have blankets available, or if you use an alternative source of heat such as a wood burning stove or kerosene heater read all safety precautions concerning their operation. Open refrigerators and freezers only when necessary to help retain the cold and prevent food spoilage. For those of you that have electric well water pumps, have extra water on-hand for drinking and to flush toilets.
If you have a family member using electrically powered equipment for a medical condition, such as an oxygen generator, be sure to have backup supplies on hand, and a plan for moving to another location until your power is restored.
If your power goes out, check your circuit breakers or fuses. If they are OK, call Wellsboro Electric Company at 570-724-3516. We maintain a 24-hour dispatch center to help you. We will ask for your name, address, phone number, and a statement of your problem or observation such as arcing wires.
STAY CLEAR OF ANY DOWNED WIRES!
Please call immediately if you see a downed line. Do not assume that because your power is out that the line is dead!
In order to provide safe and reliable electric service to our customers, trees must be properly maintained and kept clear of electric power lines. Trees are a leading cause of electrical power outages. In fact when trees and power lines touch it is a very dangerous situation to anyone in close proximity to the tree.
To help maintain safe, reliable electric service to our customers, Wellsboro Electric has implemented an aggressive right of way clearing and trimming program to control brush and trees in the vicinity of our power lines.
When Wellsboro Electric identifies an area that needs trimming, the customers will be contacted at first by letter, stating Wellsboro Electric or our contractors will be in your area trimming or removing trees along our right of way. This gives the customer the opportunity to contact us with any questions or concerns. Once the crew actually moves into the area, the foreman attempts to contact the property owners before entering your property to explain the extent of trimming planned. This contact could be by personal visit, phone call or a door tag left on your door a few days before work will be done.
Wellsboro Electric uses directional pruning techniques; these techniques were developed by the National Arborist Association and published by the National Standard Institute (ANSI). Directional pruning is the accepted standard by the National Arbor Day Foundation and the International Society of Arboriculture.
Directional pruning removes the entire branch or limb back to the main trunk of the tree. In this way the future tree growth is directed away from the power lines. Directionally pruned trees may look odd at first, however in the long run it is much better for the health of the tree by making them less susceptible to pest and decay problems, and less likely to drop branches during storms.
To provide adequate clearance around power lines, some trees require more pruning than others, if the pruning cannot be done without severely impacting its health or shape they will need to be removed. The property owner is notified as a courtesy before the removal is done. However, electric utilities have the right of way easements that give the utility the right to remove any tree interfering with the maintenance or operation of the system.
After a tree is pruned or removed, small tree limbs and branches are chipped; wood that is too large for the chipper will be left on the property and is the responsibility of the property owner to dispose of.
Storms, Trees, & Utility Lines
When a storm strikes, it may look like the end of the world, but you can help your trees recover from storm damage.
Although they may look mortally damaged after a storm, trees have an amazing ability to recover from damage. With proper pruning and care, all but the most severely damaged are likely to regain their original health and beauty.
What you can do:
- First of all, stay away from downed power lines and dangerous hanging branches ready to fall.
- Assess the damage. If it’s minor, careful pruning can generally put your tree on the path to recovery.
- Leave large limbs and damage to tree professionals. Look for an ISA certified arborist in the yellow pages under “Tree Service” or at www.ag.uiuc.edu/~isa.
Tree First Aid After a Storm
- Take safety precautions. Stay away from downed lines, and unless you really know how to use one, leave chainsaw work to the professionals.
- Remove broken branches that are still attached to the tree. They should be pruned at the point wher they join larger branches.
- Don’t top your trees! Never cut the main branches back to stubs. Ugly, weakly attached limbs will grow back and be even more likely to break off in a future storm.
For a free brochure, ‘When a Storm Strikes’, write:
The National Arbor Day Foundation
100 Arbor Ave.
Nebraska City, NE 68410
Planting the right tree in the right spot
Taller trees should be planted away from overhead utility lines.
Trees are prized possessions in our communities. They give needed shade in summer, help clear the air of pollutants, provide a home for songbirds and wildlife, and please the eye with the beauty of their foliage and blossoms.
But when a tree’s branches start to come close to or actually touch utility power lines, a potentially hazardous situation is created. Trees and power lines can co-exist, and potential conflicts can be avoided by selecting and planting trees with size and growth characteristics appropriate to their location:
Low Zone – beneath power lines and for 20 feet to either side of them, plant species that will not exceed 25 feet inheight. Taller trees in this zone should be pruned to grow around the wires by the utility company.
Medium Zone – trees that grow no more than 40 feet in height are recommended for areas immediately adjacent to the Low Zone in order to avoid high branches that overhang power lines or trees that could topple into the lines during severe storms.
Tall Zone – higher trees could be used in any locations at a distance of 50 feet or more from power lines. Trees near your house can provide significant energy benefits by providing cooling shade in the summer and giving protection from winter winds.
Please call Wellsboro Electric Company at (570) 724-3516 if you have questions about where or what trees to plant near our power lines.
For a free copy of the brochure, ‘The Right Tree for the Right Place’, write to:
The National Arbor Day Foundation
100 Arbor Ave.
Nebraska City, NE 68410
Trees & Underground Utility Lines
Hidden away beneath the soil, roots quietly go about doing their job. They anchor immense trees firmly against the wind, serve up vital water, and pry loose essential elements from the soil.
Most of a tree’s roots lie less than 8 to 12 inches below the surface, and they can grow outward to a distance one to two times the height of the tree.
Unfortunately, when trees grow in cities and towns, they must also share limited space with underground utility lines. In these crowded conditions, they live under constant threat of disturbance from utility installation or repairs, new lawn sprinkler systems, and any other activity that requires digging.
Why Tunneling and Careful Trenching Can Save Trees
Trenching near a tree can kill as much as 40 to 50 percent of the tree’s roots. This will almost certainly lead to stress, poor tree health, lack of firmness against wind, or outright death. A tunnel in the same place can preserve the tree’s roots, with no resulting damage to the tree.
When tunneling is not an alternative, the route of a trench can be altered to miss tree roots, or avoid as many of them as possible.
Homeowners should call “blue stakes” or “diggers hotlines” when digging in the vicinity of underground utilities.
Know Where Roots Really Grow
Roots spread where soil conditions allow access to soil nutrients, air and moisture. This results in about 85% of a tree’s roots being in the top 18 inches of soil, with the majority within one foot of the surface.
CALL 1-800-242-1776 BEFORE YOU DIG
PA One Call is a state wide alert system that notifies all utilities of work to be done near their underground lines.
PA One Call should be called FIRST any time you plan to dig. This number can be called anytime. A seventy-two hour advance notice should be given for most work. However, PA One Call can be contacted any time for emergency purposes.
Contacting the PA One Call system relieves you of any responsibility for damage that may occur while work is being done.
Your street trees may be public trees
The value of having and maintaining a beautiful and healthy community forest.
Each morning millions of people wake up in a majestic forest – a forest in which we live our lives, and which we leave to generations yet unborn.
America’s community forest includes the trees in your yard, and along the streets and highways around town. The trees in parks and playgrounds, along rivers and streams, around public buildings and schools – all are part of the communtiy forest.
These trees aren’t just nice to look at. They also help clean the air we breath, hold soil in place, make our communities cooler by giving needed shade, and provide a home for songbirds and other wildlife.
If you live in a town or city, the trees near the street (most often those between the sidewalk and the street) are probably city owned. if your community is part of the Tree City USA community forestry program, those trees are probably planted, pruned, or removed by city crews, following the Tree City USA guidelines for proper tree care.
Wellsboro is a Tree City USA member.
More than 88 million Americans live in more than 2,500 Tree City USAs across the nation. Ranging in size from Calvin, North Dakota (population 6) to Los Angeles (population 3.2 million) these communities have made an extra commitment to the care and perpetuation of their portion of the American Community Forest.
To receive a free Tree City USA booklet, call:
9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST
or e-mail your request to
The National Arbor Day Foundation
100 Arbor Ave.
Nebraska City, NE 68410
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