Be Prepared For Summer Storm Season

Despite the best efforts of Nodak Electric Cooperative and other utilities, outages, surges and low voltages can still occur for many reasons, especially lightning from summer storms. 

Even though your cooperative has an up-to-date distribution system with preventative measures like lightning arresters placed throughout the system, equipment can fail and nature is unpredictable. In fact, a lightning bolt can push an estimated 10 to 100 million volts of electricity with an average current of 30,000 amps. 

Be aware that only in the case of negligence would Nodak Electric Cooperative or any utility’s insurance be liable to pay for damage to a member’s property. While surges and low voltage are rare, they can damage sensitive equipment. These types of events take many forms: 

  • Lightning strikes a power pole, sending a surge in voltage through the power lines. 
  • A vehicle hits a power pole, knocking down one phase of a three-phase feeder, causing low voltage. 

If you ever do experience a surge or low voltage event, turn off and disconnect sensitive equipment as quickly as possible. Doing so is the best defense. Also, many types of surge protectors help protect electrical equipment against voltage fluctuations. Members can purchase whole-house surge protection from an electrician or protection for individual equipment like computers. Surge protectors absorb some of the electric surge and divert the rest to ground. Look for UL-listed products. 

Finally, uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems are powered by batteries and provide time for the user to correctly save or shut off items they have on a computer. Some UPS systems provide protection against voltage sags or spikes for however long they are rated to work. Acts of nature like lightning strikes are not covered by many insurance policies. It is always a good idea to check your homeowner’s insurance policy to see what is covered and ask for advice on protecting sensitive electronic equipment.