Frequently asked questions

Related to PowerOutage.us:

How do you record outages?

We work with distribution utilities to set up data integrations to record how many electric customers are without power. So, if an outage directly causes customers to lose power, we do our best to record it no matter the root cause.


Why are some areas on the map black?

There are a few causes to this:
• We have not added an electric utility that covers that area yet
• The electric utility that covers that area does not report outages at that level of detail


Why is "Customers Tracked" from some areas inaccurate?

Some electric utilities do not report the total number of customers that they serve in an area. In these cases, we use the maximum historical outage for that area as the "Customers Tracked" number.


Do you collect/sell address or personally identifiable information?

We do not collect, or sell, address or customer data.
Most utilities do not provide it, and we don't collect it from the few that do.
This is to protect the privacy of the utility customers, and prevent us from having to process, store, and protect PII data.


Why are there inaccuracies during sudden major outage events?

When there is a sudden massive loss of power across a significant area, usually caused by transmission grid outages, meters and other utility monitoring points can have difficulties communicating their status, so utilities' automatic reporting systems become inaccurate.
The utility knows that they have a transmission outage, but they don’t know the status of a specific meter. This is not an issue because the fault is not at the meter level, and they are working on fixing the actual faults, but it does mean customer-level reporting is hindered.
Since we solely rely on utilities' meter-level reporting for our customer outage data, during these major sudden events, there can be inaccuracies in total customer outage counts. We do our best to post updates and information when this is the case.


How can I help?

If you know of an electric utility with an outage website we don't track, please let us know so we can work on adding it.

If you are a customer of an electric utility that does not have a public-facing outage website or outage management system (OMS), then please ask them to add one.

Please let us know if you notice any discrepancies between this site and the various utility outage websites.


Related to Power Outages in genural:

What are Distribution or Transmission Outages?

Distribution outages are local issues specific to the utility that provides power dirrectly to customer meters. They include events such as power line, transformer, and substation failures, rolling outage events, and public safety power shutoff events.
Transmission outages are power grid issues that affect distribution utilities. They include events such as transmission line failures, power plant failures, and grid operator directed power curtailments.


What are Power Curtailments, or Load Shedding?

When the amount of power being generated cannot meet current energy demand, power grid operators will call for Load Shedding or Power Curtailments. They direct the distribution utilities on their grid to lower the load on the grid; this is done mostly by increasing the cost of power, forcing power outages, or implementing rolling outages.


What are Rolling Outages?

When a utility must disconnect electric customers to lower overall grid loads, they will usually do this by instituting Rolling Outages, they will shut off specific circuits for a set amount of time, then turn them back on while shutting down the next set of electric circuits. With the goal to make it so each customer is only out for a short time, instead of a grid failure causing everyone to be out for a long time.
Keep in mind during these events customers can still lose power due to normal causes. When a utility must disconnect electric customers to lower overall grid load, they usually do this by implementing Rolling Outages. They shut off specific electric circuits for a set amount of time, then turn them back on while shutting down the next set of circuits. The goal is to make each customer's outage brief instead of a grid-wide failure that causes everyone to be out for a long time.
Keep in mind that during these events, customers can still lose power due to normal causes.


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