What causes an outage?

PECO spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year to help ensure its customers receive reliable electric and natural gas service. Despite our extensive programs to help improve reliability, outages do occur.  Learn about the most common causes of electric and gas outages in our area.

Trees and Vegetation
Tree branches on powerlines or trees falling on powerlines can cause power outages.

Severe wind can cause powerlines to come in contact with tree limbs, which can cause dimming lights or an interruption of service. Wind can break or damage tree branches, poles, and power lines.

Lightning generally searches for the tallest objects to serve as a conductor. These include utility poles, wires, transformers, trees, and other electrical equipment. When lightning strikes electrical equipment, a power loss can occur.

Rain and Flooding
Heavy rain and melting snow can cause flooding in some areas. Floods can cause damage to aboveground and underground electrical and gas equipment.

Ice and Snow
Snow and ice can buildup, which may cause powerlines to break and tree limbs to fall into power lines or even result in broken poles.

Motor Vehicle Accidents
Vehicles coming into contact with utility poles or other electrical equipment are common causes of power outages. They may cause downed power lines or utility poles to break.

Wildlife Contact
Small animals—such as squirrels and birds—can damage equipment and interrupt service when climbing on poles, transformers, and fuses.

Excavation digging by contractors can damage underground electrical and gas equipment.

Equipment Failure
Lack of pressure or equipment failure can disrupt the flow of natural gas or electricity.

Planned Outages
To maintain our equipment and keep up with the growing communities, we may schedule planned outages in some areas.


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