Blinks Confirm VEC’s Power System Protection is Working

Blinks can be very frustrating when you work from home.


It seems like Murphy’s Law in action. You are working on an important project on your computer and the power goes off for just a second. Long enough to shut the computer off.  While blinks can be annoying, they confirm that Volunteer Energy Cooperative’s (VEC) power system is working.

This seconds long power outage is caused by a power blink – a brief interruption that is designed to prevent a longer power outage and to prevent damage to VEC’s electric distribution system, your home, and the contents of your home.

Blinks occur when an obstruction, like a tree limb, comes into contact with a power line or a transformer. To minimize the possibility of damage to the utility system or your home, a circuit breaker interrupts the flow of electricity to the problem site for a fraction of a second. VEC’s system breakers function much like the breakers in the electrical panel of your home.

If the obstruction remains on the line, the breaker opens and tries to reclose again. If the obstruction is still on the line after the third try, the breaker opens and does not reclose automatically.  At this point, a VEC employee will be dispatched to remove the obstruction and manually reset the breaker.

Without these breakers, electrical faults could result in a lengthy outage affecting everyone on that particular substation feeder. The faults could also cause serious and expensive damage to VEC’s system or to your home. Blinks can affect the time display on electronic devices such as DVRs, microwaves ovens, personal computers and digital clocks. Most new devices include battery backups which give the device the capability of riding out these brief power fluctuations.  An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) on your computer can help prevent information loss. The UPS incorporates surge suppression technology with a battery backup and provides you some time to save whatever you are working on and exit your computer properly.

The blinks are most often caused by tree limbs, lightning, wind, heavy snow load, small animals on power lines, or a car striking a utility pole.  VEC operates an aggressive right of way management program in an effort to reduce blinks by making sure tree limbs are clear of power lines. Even though blinks will never completely disappear from our power delivery system, we are working hard to minimize the number and the impact of the interruptions.