Help Topics
Outage - help bundle

Why do my lights blink?

Many outages are caused by faults that are temporary in nature.

Example: A tree limb makes contact with or falls on a power line. About 85 percent of the time, it will bounce off the line. The power system is designed to interrupt power when something like this happens by momentarily opening an interrupting device, such as a circuit breaker or recloser. Once the interrupting device is open for a pre-determined amount of time, it will automatically close thus restoring power as long as the tree limb is no longer making contact with the power line.

This automatic open-close of the interrupting device occurs in about 1/4th of a second, and this is the "blink" you actually see. Unfortunately, if the tree limb remains in contact with the line, the interrupting device will "lock out" prompting utility crews to respond to clear the fault (in this case remove the tree limb) and restore power.

In essence, the "blink" is the power system working correctly and attempting to save customers from a more lengthy power outage.

Why do my lights dim?

Central air conditioning, heat pumps, some appliances and any motor-driven equipment may cause a noticeable dimming of your lights on start up. In most cases, this is normal. Dimming or brightening can also occur when there is a dip or spike in the electrical power serving your home. Fluctuating power system voltage due to system conditions during storms, wind and other weather events may cause your lights to dim or brighten on a temporary basis.

How does LG&E and KU prioritize its restoration efforts?

Our Power Restoration Steps provide detailed information about how LG&E and KU prioritizes its restoration efforts. Our first responsibility during a major storm is to maintain public safety and restore electricity to vital public services, including hospitals, nursing homes, fire departments and police stations. LG&E and KU must eliminate all potential safety hazards to the public, such as downed power lines, snapped and severely leaning utility poles, and trees that have fallen on electric power lines.

Once public safety and vital public services have been addressed,the next priority is critical customers, such as airports and customers on the company's Medical Alert Program. After we address power outages involving all vital public services, critical customers and customers on the Medical Alert Program, the company makes an extraordinary effort to restore power to circuits that serve the greatest number of people.

Before electricity can be restored to your street and, ultimately, your home, LG&E and KU must repair damaged electrical substations and main distribution lines that feed the homes and businesses on your street. Next LG&E and KU must repair damaged wires between utility poles and individual homes.

Does LG&E and KU offer provisions for individuals with special medical problems, such as those on life-sustaining equipment?

LG&E and KU understands that electricity is an absolute necessity for some customers, mainly those on a physician-prescribed ventilator, respirator or ventricular-assist device. If you or someone in your household relies on this type of equipment, we urge you to consider our Medical Alert Program.

Why can't LG&E and KU tell me when my power will be restored?

LG&E and KU understands that it is not unreasonable to request an estimated restoration time when your service has been interrupted. A number of factors affect our ability to provide customers with an exact restoration time. One important factor during a major storm event is completion of a damage assessment.

Estimated restoration time is difficult to determine until an on-site evaluation has been completed in the affected area(s). Other variables that can impact the length of time it will take to restore service are weather conditions during our restoration work, accessibility to damaged areas, and coordination of crews including mutual assistance offered from other utility companies.

We continually strive to improve our efforts and communications regarding estimated restoration times. We understand that delivering up-to-date and accurate restoration times to each customer is extremely important.

Why do my neighbors have power when I do not?

The service to your home or business may be fed from a different electric circuit than your neighbors. Think of this in the same way your circuit breakers feed electricity to the various rooms in your home or business. When a breaker trips inside your home or business, one room has lights while another room does not. The same concept is true for the electric power lines that provide electricity to each neighborhood we serve.

I saw a utility crew working in my area, but they left and I still do not have power. Why?

Utility crews working near your home, even as close as across the street, may be working to repair a circuit that does not serve every home in your area. A different crew would likely be assigned to your circuit. For safety reasons, the departing crew cannot work on a circuit that has been assigned to another crew. Once a circuit is completed, the crew will begin work on a new circuit starting at the electrical substation with the main distribution line and working their way out.

Why did my power come back on and then go back off a few minutes later?

Sometimes after a power line is repaired, other events such as falling tree limbs can cause the service to go back out again. This is especially true during wind and ice storms since tree limbs are broken and/or weakened during the storm but remain in the tree. It may also be necessary for us to turn off your power to safely repair other problems in the area. In any event, our crews will work to restore your power as safely and efficiently as possible. If your power goes off after service has been restored, you can report the outage or call us at:

LG&E Customers: 502-589-1444 (outside Louisville 800-331-7370)

KU/ODP Customers: 800-981-0600

Why does it seem as if my power goes out every time the wind blows?

The problem is most likely caused by trees in the area. Unfortunately, trees can be a utility company's worst nightmare. If a tree limb simply makes contact with a power line, this can cause a short circuit and could be enough to cause a temporary service interruption. If the tree limb stays on the line, this may result in a longer outage.

LG&E and KU has an aggressive powerline tree clearance program, trimming trees on a five-year cycle. If you spot an urgent hazard, such as a tree making direct contact with a high voltage power line where arcing is involved, report the tree problem to us so we can send someone to investigate right away. Please let us know if you have any other tree-related problems or questions.

Why should I allow LG&E or KU to trim my trees?

Trees are one of the leading causes of power outages. Tree limbs can cause short circuits simply by brushing against power lines. During major events that involve wind and ice, tree limbs can be the cause of power outages that impact thousands of customers. LG&E and KU has a great respect for the aesthetics of the community, but we also take very seriously our commitment to providing safe, reliable service to our customers. Tree trimming is directly related to reliability and is an absolute necessity.

We also work hard to raise awareness about our tree trimming practices and encourage customers to become aware of planting the right tree in the right place.

Should I trim my own trees?

Trimming trees that have grown into or near power lines is extremely dangerous. Safety is our highest priority. Trimming trees within 10 feet of high voltage power lines is prohibited because of the dangers involved. Residents can, however, maintain other trees on their property to prevent them from falling into power lines.

LG&E and KU are not responsible for trimming trees or limbs that grow into the low-voltage service lines that enter your home or business. We do advise that you contact a professional tree trimming service to have this work performed.

If you have trees that need to be trimmed and you want to ensure the work is done safely, please request a service drop or cover up. We will ensure the service lines that feed your home or business are dropped or covered while you — or the experts you hire — perform the work.

Sometimes my service goes out even when there is no storm or weather event in the area. What other events can cause power outages or impact my service?

LG&E and KU works hard to ensure safe, reliable service to each and every customer. There are times, however, when events occur that are out of our control and impact the service to one or more customers. Although the vast majority of power outages are storm-related, there are other non-weather events that occur and impact the service we provide, including:

  • Wildlife in the equipment
  • Work in the area
  • An equipment malfunction
  • A severed underground line
  • A fire in the area
  • Maintenance of the electrical system in the area
  • Trees or limbs in the lines
  • A motor vehicle accident
  • An unknown cause

In some instances, your service may be affected by a planned outage in your area so that our crews can perform upgrades or repairs to your service. We make every effort to provide advance notification of any planned outage that may impact your service.

I have underground service in my subdivision, but my service is still impacted during major storms. Why?

While underground service can enhance the aesthetics of a neighborhood or community, the underground service is fed at some point by an overhead line. If a lightning strike or high winds impact the service line that feeds the underground service in your neighborhood, your service will be affected. In some instances, it can take our crews longer to restore service to areas served by an underground system because we cannot visually identify the cause of the outage.

Why can't LG&E and KU bury all of the electrical power lines to avoid power outages altogether?

Burying all of the power lines that serve our customers would be very expensive — roughly $1 million per mile. These costs would be passed along to our customers in the form of higher rates. While placing power lines underground may result in fewer storm-related outages overall, outages do occur on underground power lines. Locating faults on underground power lines tends to be more time-consuming because our crews cannot visually determine what caused the outage. Special equipment is required for fault location and the restoration efforts can be lengthened since excavation is typically involved to repair the service.

LG&E and KU continually investigates and evaluates the most cost-effective methods to enhance and "storm harden" our system. We must consider detailed cost benefit analysis to ensure we provide the safe, reliable service our customers expect and deserve while doing so in such a manner that exorbitant costs do not negatively impact our customers' rates.

Should I purchase a portable generator to ensure service to my home or business?

Whether or not to purchase an electric generator is a personal decision. Most electric power outages are temporary and do not necessarily require back-up power supplies. However, many people have special needs or want the security of knowing they have back-up generation in the event of an emergency or extended outage.

If you own a portable generator that you use in emergency situations, it is extremely important that you operate it properly. Improper installation or use can lead to house fires or electricity feeding back into our electric system, which endangers the lives of our repair crews and can cause problems on your own service line.

Before you buy a generator, make sure it is the right size for your needs. Always consult with a qualified, licensed electrician and/or review the manufacturer's instructions before installing the generator. A qualified, licensed electrician can ensure your generator is properly installed and that the wires in your home are isolated (using a special transfer switch) from our electric system.

Portable generators should always be operated outside and should be properly vented. You should never refuel your generator while it is in operation.

Power Restoration Steps

We prioritize repairs during a restoration:

  1. Main high-voltage transmission lines supply energy to a large area. When these lines are damaged they leave most consumers in the area without power.  We must fix these lines first so electricity can reach our substations, which supply power to your home or business.
  2. Emergency and life-sustaining agencies such as hospitals, nursing homes, fire departments, and police stations have very important duties to perform, especially after a major storm. They receive top priority after the main transmission lines have been fixed.
  3. Critical businesses, such as airports, are also vital to a large number of people. They receive our next priority, along with any customers on our Medical Alert Program. Always have a back-up generator ready and store important refrigerated medicines in a cooler during an emergency.
  4. Substations and tap lines are next. Repairing these allows us to restore power to large numbers of customers at one time. By this time a majority of customers will have their power restored.
  5. If your power is still out but your neighbor's is on, you probably require individual repair to the service line that runs from the pole to the meter. Repairing individual lines can take a considerable amount of time.