A viewer's advice: Power outages during ice storms

A viewer's advice: Power outages during ice storms

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Pics of the power trucks across the street from Emstar Contractors at White Water Park off of Cobb Parkway. - Viewer Cecil Pics of the power trucks across the street from Emstar Contractors at White Water Park off of Cobb Parkway. - Viewer Cecil
Pics of the power trucks across the street from Emstar Contractors at White Water Park off of Cobb Parkway. - Viewer Cecil Pics of the power trucks across the street from Emstar Contractors at White Water Park off of Cobb Parkway. - Viewer Cecil
Pics of the power trucks across the street from Emstar Contractors at White Water Park off of Cobb Parkway. - Viewer Cecil Pics of the power trucks across the street from Emstar Contractors at White Water Park off of Cobb Parkway. - Viewer Cecil
Pics of the power trucks across the street from Emstar Contractors at White Water Park off of Cobb Parkway. - Viewer Cecil Pics of the power trucks across the street from Emstar Contractors at White Water Park off of Cobb Parkway. - Viewer Cecil
ATLANTA, Ga. -

As a 42 year retired engineer, with Georgia Power Company, perhaps I can help to the viewers understand what an ice storm does to power lines. The "primary lines" that run alongside most streets and roads carry either 12,000 volts or 25,000 volts of electricity. These primary lines attach to the high side of the transformer on the pole. The "secondary lines" exit from the low side of the transformer on the pole and carry 120 and 240 volts into your residence. Virtually all power lines are presently made of aluminum conductor, with a steel core in the center for strength. Some coastal areas use all aluminum due to the corrosive salt atmosphere, which causes the steel core to rust.

The steel core in these conductors (power lines) will withstand several thousand pounds of tension. Rarely do they break from the weight of the ice alone. Most times if the ice loading becomes heavy enough the top will break out of the pole. She is entirely correct that one-tenth of ice will start to cause damage to tree limbs. The limbs break off the trees and come in contact with the power lines. Heavier ice than one-tenth can break the trees in half and even cause many trees, especially hardwoods to uproot. These limbs and trees falling into the power lines will cause the line to short out thus burning the power line in two.

All power lines (circuits) are protected by fuses or other protective devices, but their must be a fault on the circuit before the device operates, automatically de-energizing the power line. Ice is also somewhat of an insulator as the molecules and dust particles in the ice are further apart than they are in water. It sometimes takes the protective device longer to de-energize the power line because of ice. Hope this helps in understanding that the vast majority of the time, the power line burns down rather than breaking from the weight of the ice. An area that is heavily wooded during is not a good place to be during an ice storm.

-L. Cash

 

This editorial narrative was submitted to MyFoxAtlanta.com and does not represent the views and opinions of Georgia Power or any authority. Please consult your electric provider for more expert advice about your specific service area.

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