What causes power outages?

Power outages can be caused by many different things including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Storms: Wind, heat, ice, and snow are the most common causes of widespread power outages.
  • Lightning: When lightning strikes transmission towers, wires, and poles, outages occur.
  • Animals: Squirrels, birds, and other small animals are a common cause for power lines to short circuits.
  • Trees: During high wind, or trimming by an untrained professional, limbs can come into contact with power lines, causing power interruptions.
  • Excavation Digging: Underground cables are commonly disturbed by digging. Practice safety when you dig and always call Iowa One Call first at 811. Click here for more information on Iowa One Call.
  • High Power Demand: During heat waves and other times of unusually high power demand, overburdened electric cables, transformers, and other electrical equipment can melt and fail.
  • Vehicles: Occasionally, vehicle accidents with a utility pole cause power outages.

If you experience a power outage or notice a problem with our power lines, call us at 1.866.242.4232, 24 hours a day, seven days a week

What's the process of restoring power after a storm?

Mother Nature doesn’t always follow the rules. She sends wind, lightning, and other weather elements that can cause disruptions in your service.

After a storm, outages can sometimes occur at several points in an electric system. At Access Energy Cooperative our goal is to get the power back on for everyone in the most efficient, safe manner while restoring electricity to the greatest number of consumers in the shortest amount of time.

When a widespread outage occurs, here’s how our repair crews work:

  • they first check substations
  • then work their way out on the main distribution line, restoring service to the main feeder lines
  • then they move to lines serving groups of homes
  • and finally individual consumers

Fixing the damage at an individual home first is useless if the main line is dead-no electricity would flow into the home anyway. By repairing the main line first, many more people will have their power restored.

What should we do if the lights go out?
  • If you lose power during a storm, call us right away so we can determine the extent of the power failure. Please keep in mind that during a large spread outage, it may take a few calls to get through on the phone lines. Please be patient with us and keep calling.
  • Stay away from fallen trees or power lines. Avoid driving down roads or streets with fallen trees and power lines.
  • Disconnect TVs, computers, and all electronic equipment to prevent damage when power is restored.
  • Above all, stay inside and try to be patient. We’re working hard to have your power on again as soon as possible.

Click here for more information on what to do during an outage.

What causes power blinks?

Power blinks, or momentary power flickers, occur when an obstruction, like a tree limb, animal, or vehicle, comes into contact with a power pole, line or transformer. To minimize the possibility of damage to the utility system or your home, a circuit breaker interrupts the flow of electricity for a fraction of a second.

If the object remains on the line, the breaker opens and tries to reclose two more times before the power goes out. At this point, a lineman must be dispatched to remove the obstruction and manually reset the breaker.  Without this feature designed into the system, very brief interruptions would result in outages lasting much longer.

How accurate are our meters?

At Access Energy Cooperative, all of our watt-hour meters must be accurate to within ±2% at full and light load. To verify meters are operating within these parameters, we test 10% of our meters each year.

With the installation of the Automated Meter Information (AMI) system, the majority of our meters have been replaced with electronic meters. These meters are more accurate than their old electro-mechanical counterparts and will also reduce meter reading costs. For more information on AMI, click here.

If you feel your meter is not working properly, you may request it to be tested. An advance deposit is required prior to performing the meter test. If the meter is found to be within the ±2% we will retain the deposit to cover the expenses of the meter test. If the meter is found to be registering outside the ±2%, we will refund the deposit and review the account.

How to Request a Meter Test

  • Click here to submit a request for a meter test
  • Or call our office at 319-385-1577 or toll free at 1-866-242-4232
How do I read my meter?

All of Access Energy’s meters have a numeric display showing the number of kilowatt-hours the meter has recorded since it was installed. To determine your current usage, take the current reading and subtract the reading you recorded on a previous day. In most cases this will be your usage during that time period.

However, some of the new electronic meters have a multiplier on the right side of the faceplate. If your meter has a multiplier you will need to multiply the reading you just calculated by this number.

For instance if you recorded a reading of 52,100 a month ago and your meter reading is currently 53,200, you would subtract the two to get a usage of 1,100 kWh. If, however, your meter has a multiplier of 20 the actual usage for the month would be 20 * 1100 or 22,000 kWh.