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Causes of Power Outages

Snow, ice storms, and storms with high winds can cause severe damage that can lead to power outages.

When an object, such as a tree limb, comes in contact with a power line, circuit breakers or other protective equipment shut off the flow of power. Customers connected to that circuit will be without power until crews can remove the object and reset the equipment.

During severe weather, such as hurricanes, tornadoes or ice storms, trees may be uprooted and fall onto the power lines, knocking down miles of power lines and poles. In these instances, we have to completely rebuild the electrical line. This is dangerous and time consuming work and may cause you to be without power for longer periods of time. Trees and other debris may even block streets or highways and prevent access to the area.

Damage to electrical equipment is not always obvious or immediately visible. Duke Energy crews must inspect the lines and equipment to locate the specific area in need of repair.

Weather-Related Causes of Outages

Lightning
Lightning is a common cause of outages during storms. Lightning strikes can hit our electrical equipment, causing you to lose power. Lightning can also strike trees, which may fall onto power lines and cause outages.

Ice
Ice storms create a buildup of ice on power lines and on trees. The weight of the ice can cause tree limbs and entire trees to fall onto power lines - knocking the lines and poles down and breaking them, or knocking the lines onto each other, causing an outage.

Wind, Tornadoes and Hurricanes
High winds or fallen trees may cause power lines to touch and short out, causing an outage. Wind may also blow tree limbs or entire trees onto the power lines, causing the lines to fall to the ground and possibly even break the lines and poles.

Rain and Flooding
Heavy rains can cause flooding in certain areas. Floods can cause damage to both above-ground and underground electrical equipment. To prevent major damage to the equipment, Duke Energy technicians may need to shut it down, affecting service to some customers.

Other Causes of Outages

Vehicle and Construction Accidents
Vehicle accidents are a common cause of power outages. They can result in broken poles, causing power lines to break or touch. Accidental contact with underground or overhead power lines at construction sites can also cause power outages.

Animals
Small animals can also cause power outages. These animals climb on certain pieces of equipment, such as transformers and fuses, causing the equipment to shut down. By shutting down, the equipment protects the rest of the system.