FAQs – Outages & Reliability

What should I do when I have a power outage at my house?

Check your breakers and fuses to make sure the problem is not within your electrical system.

Report the outage using SmartHub or by calling (800) 835-9586 anytime day or night. Choosing our automated system is the quickest way to report an outage or check the status of an existing outage, particularly during widespread outages.

The SmartHub app can provide automatic notifications on the status of an outage. For larger outages, we typically provide updates on our Facebook page.

How does Heartland determine which poles need to be replaced?

Heartland has tens of thousands of electric poles on our system. Each year, Heartland contracts with Osmose Utility Services to inspect and, when necessary, treat poles within certain areas of our system on a rotating basis so all poles are inspected over time. Poles are inspected for rot and flagged for replacement when necessary.

However, since each pole is only inspected once every few years, it is important for members to let us know if they see a pole that appears to be in poor condition. Members are encouraged to report poles in poor condition by calling (800) 835-9586.

What are some of the biggest factors affecting reliability?

Most outages are caused by one or more of the following:

  • Storms: High winds, lightning, and heavy rain can cause damage to power lines and transformers, leading to power outages. Ice storms can be especially damaging.
  • Trees and vegetation: Trees and vegetation can cause damage to power lines and equipment, especially during storms. Tree trimmers and contractors work year-round to keep our rights-of-way clear of trees that are likely to cause problems.
  • Wildlife: Wildlife such as squirrels and birds can cause damage to power lines and equipment, leading to power outages. Heartland has placed animal protection equipment on many of our most sensitive pieces of equipment.
  • Equipment failure: Power outages can occur when equipment such as transformers, generators, and switching gear fail. Ongoing inspections help to minimize this issue.
  • Transmission problems: Heartland is dependent on generation and transmission from outside sources to provide power to our substations, which in turn distribute power to the homes and businesses on our system. If there are problems with the transmission lines, this can cause large-scale outages to the members served by the affected substations.

It's important to note that power outages can happen for multiple reasons and sometimes it's a combination of different factors that lead to power disruption. Heartland has plans and procedures in place to respond to every kind of outage, but sometimes it can take longer depending on the complexity of the problem. During larger outages, members are encouraged to watch our Facebook page for updates.

How do solar and wind power affect reliability?

Solar and wind generation can have both positive and negative effects on electric grid reliability. Solar and wind generation can be less expensive than traditional fossil fuels, which leads to cost savings for members. Heartland's utility-scale solar farms reduce the amount of energy we have to buy during peak times in the summer when pricing is at its highest. Additionally, solar and wind generation do not produce emissions. Pairing solar and wind generation with battery storage could lead to increased grid stability in the future.

However, solar and wind generation are dependent on weather conditions, which means that their output can be unpredictable and intermittent. This can make it more difficult to balance supply and demand on the grid. Solar and wind generation do not produce energy at night or during calm weather, and therefore require energy storage solutions such as batteries to ensure a reliable supply of electricity. And adding more solar and wind to the mix often requires upgrades to the transmission infrastructure. 

Overall, incorporating solar and wind generation into the electric grid can improve reliability by providing a diverse and clean source of energy, but it also requires flexibility and planning to balance the grid and ensure a stable and reliable electricity supply.

Why do I have to pay an electrician to fix a line that’s down between the meter pole and my building?

For liability and insurance reasons, we do not work on members' equipment. Per Heartland's Rules and Regulations (PDF), Heartland's obligation to supply electric service is completed by supplying electric service at the member's point of delivery (i.e., the meter), and the cooperative "will not be liable for any loss, damage, or injury whatsoever caused by leakage, escape, or loss of electric energy after it has passed the point of delivery, nor for defects in the Member's wiring, appliances, or equipment" (pages 22-23, section 7.C).