Our customers rely on us to keep the power on — and when the lights go out, it’s our job to swiftly and safely restore power. When there’s an outage, one of the first things we do is determine if we can move any of the affected customers to another energy source to minimize the outage impact while we make repairs. We call this switching.

What’s Switching?

When the flow of electricity along a power line is interrupted (such as by a car hitting a pole), power is cut off to all homes and businesses “downstream” of the nearest distribution substation, which relays power from a generation plant.

It’s like driving with a GPS maps app on your phone. If traffic or a roadblock is ahead, the app finds an alternate route and saves you time. Similarly, electricity can sometimes be redirected when there’s a problem, like a downed line. For example, if there’s a power outage, we may be able to use switching to reroute electricity within our grid to avoid damaged equipment and restore power while crews work to make repairs.

How Does Switching Work?

By “switching” to another power source – in this case a neighboring circuit – power can be restored to affected customers until repairs can be made.

Switching can happen automatically or manually. The automated switching we’ve installed on many electric circuits uses new smart technology called Distribution Automation Circuit Reconfiguration (DACR) that can detect an outage and reroute power within minutes.

For circuits without DACR, our crews handle the switching process manually. This can take anywhere from five minutes to several hours, depending on the location and complexity of the work needed. It takes longer when the manual process is required but it still helps us achieve our goal of minimizing the length of time our customers are out of power.

Stay Connected

We work hard to keep our customers up to date. Whether we’re making improvements that might require a temporary outage so our crews can safely complete work or if there’s an unexpected outage, here’s how you can stay in the know:

16 responses to “The Power of Switching: Helping Minimize the Impact of Outages

  1. Thanks for the update. Hopefully we don’t have too many issues where we need this but glad you are able to restore our service so quickly to keep the lights on.

  2. I am confident that AEP workers can safely maximize efficiency in power outages. Thank you for the update.

  3. Great news! You make the future look brighter for all of us out here who dread those power outages. Thank you for all your hard work!!!

  4. I hope our energy distributors are ready. Last week we had two back to back X-Class solar flares that knocked out radio signals in parts of 🇺🇲, Canada, & the Pacific. It’s supposed to get worse through the remainder of 2023 – 2024

    1. We were just looking into ADMS and FLISR when I retired. Our municipal utility had massive public resistance to smart meters and a sympathetic city council so it was hard to get it off the ground.

  5. Changing out wooden poles along Shier-Ring Rd. near Cosgray & Baronscourt in Dublin: electric power? Are these stronger and can hold more wire? Will there be disruption of power in a wide area, such as Innovation Rd.
    I salute the men who have worked throughout the transition in the construction of Avery/Shier-Ring area in Dublin. It is dangerous work.

    1. Thanks for the kind note, Marian. We’re proud of our hard-working crews. The work is part of our ongoing upgrades to improve reliability and capacity in the area. Any customers affected by planned outages would be notified in advance through automated telephone messages.

  6. I hate to say it but ITS ABOUT TIME! Finally a brilliant update to a very OUTDATED electric system! Thought we would NEVER get out of the primitive electric service, our prices keep sky rocketing yet out electric stayed OUTDATED. Happy to hear about switch.

  7. Thanks for the update. Always appreciate your keeping up with the most recent innovations and your prompt responses when electricity does go out and notifying us.

    1. Hi Kenneth, great questions. I think the images in the article show it well. A circuit can be isolated by using a recloser, switch or having the crew cut in an open point in the wires. (Think cutting an extension cord in half and then splicing it back together when you are done making repairs.)

  8. I am very happy w/reliable power in my neighborhood. But here comes the “BUT”. I noticed the squirrels had vanished in our neighborhood this summer. I always delighted in watching them from my windows chasing each other in the tall trees. And the baby ones having no fear of height as they played ‘tag’. I had several that came to my bird feeders a lot. Recently I spotted a squirrel electrocuted under a power line they often ran across and I knew then why they were missing. I telephoned and spoke with a lady in your company. She said this happens all the time and nothing can be done to prevent it. That is breaking my heart AND I DO NOT AGREE with her. Where there is a WILL there is a WAY. How long before our squirrel friends will be on endangered list??? Why should they lose their lives so innocently and cruelly??? COME ON AEP…..I have lived in my neighborhood for 12 years and this never happened until this summer. Why the difference now?? Perhaps there is a bare wire up in that area that one of your linemen will meet the same fate…..hope not. If you are aware squirrels are being electrocuted then why can’t there be a shield placed over the spot so they can safely move around? Please care enough to protect our natural habitants!!!!!! I hope you will respond to this……

    1. Hi Sondra,

      Thanks for your comment. We put a lot of effort into protecting our furry and feathered friends. This blog article details several of the animal protection devices we use.

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