OUC line techs replaced damaged utility poles and installed new power lines and transformers to improve system reliability to customers on Clemwood Drive near Lake Underhill.

Keeping the lights on and air conditioners running during the hot, stormy months of summer is the goal of OUC’s year-round efforts to improve system reliability and grid resiliency. That’s why OUC conducts storm-hardening projects throughout its service territory, with customers usually unaffected while the work is underway.

But on occasion, OUC schedules planned power outages in neighborhoods to ensure the safety of powerline crews working on or near energized utility equipment. These temporary outages are sometimes necessary to facilitate the installations of new electric infrastructure and grid upgrades.

Storm-hardening projects can take several days to complete, but that doesn’t mean homeowners will be without power every day work continues. For example, in late June, OUC line technicians upgrading electric infrastructure in Orlando’s Lake Underhill area only disconnected power when they had to in order to run service lines from utility poles to homes.

The Clemwood project entailed replacing damaged utility poles and hanging new powerlines and new transformers, giving residents a more resilient electric circuit at the onset of the summer storm season.

“We do everything we can to avoid shutting off power to customers’ homes while working on powerlines and other energized equipment,” said Jody Rodgers, Lead Line Supervisor. “But there are times we have to disconnect power to protect our line techs. Usually we can keep outages to an hour or 90 minutes.”

Using automated phone, email and text message alerts, OUC notifies residents of planned outages before crews arrive on their streets. Work crews also place door-hanging notices at impacted homes the day before a planned outage.

Vegetation management, also known as tree trimming, is another year-round program that OUC, through a contractor, carries out to help ensure system reliability. About 20% of all unplanned OUC power outages are caused by vegetation interacting with powerlines, most often during intense storms. Tree canopies growing in close proximity to OUC’s powerlines are trimmed every three to four years.

“Our vegetation management program is essential to ensuring the reliability of electric service to customers,” said Erin Givens, Vegetation Program Manager. “We normally don’t have to de-energize powerlines while working on trees, but there are times when planned outages are unavoidable.”

OUC has received the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Line USA©   award for 23 consecutive years, making it the longest-running honoree in Florida. Tree Line USA© is a national program recognizing public and private utilities for practices that protect and enhance America’s urban forests.