FAQs

FAQs

Below are some of the questions we hear most often from Cullman EC members. If you don’t find the answer you’re looking for on this list, please call us at  (256)737-3200 or click here to send us an e-mail with your question. We’re more than happy to answer all your questions!

What are Cullman Electric Cooperative’s priorities for service restoration?

First, Cullman EC will work around the clock until service is restored. Safety of personnel and the public will remain our highest priority. The priorities are: Assessing the overall system and repairing power plants, major lines and substations that carry power from plants to communities.

Restoring power to key services essential to community safety, health and welfare – such as hospitals, police, fire, communications and water, sanitary and transportation providers.

Making repairs to electrical facilities that will return service to the largest number of Members in the shortest period of time, then the next largest number and so on until power is returned to everyone. Members should call (256) 737-3201 to report an outage. Cullman Electric Cooperative will provide service restoration updates to local newspapers, radio and television to keep everyone informed of our progress. Please do not interrupt crews who are working to restore power, as doing so can create a dangerous working environment.

Do politicians, employees or other important individuals get special attention?

No. Cullman EC does not give preferential treatment. It is contrary to our storm restoration plan and company policy to single out any individual for priority electric service restoration.

How does Cullman Electric Cooperative determine who has lost service and what repairs are needed?

We make an initial damage assessment of our system via system monitoring equipment and by utilizing an Outage Management System to group and analyze outages reported by members via phone. During major outages, Cullman EC crews will also provide damage assessment by observation in the field. These initial observations help us understand the repairs that may need to be made to key facilities like transmission lines, substations and main power lines.

How will fallen trees near power lines be handled?

One of our top priorities will be to remove trees from the line that have damaged electrical equipment and are preventing service restoration. Members should not attempt to remove or trim foliage within 10 feet of a power line. If a tree or tree limbs have fallen on a power line or pulled it down, do not attempt to get close to the line and do not attempt to remove the limb or tree. Always assume downed lines are electrified and are dangerous. If the line is sparking, call Cullman EC at (256) 737-3201 and report a downed line. Note: Safety should always be your first priority when pruning. Look up. Be especially careful when working with a ladder, scaffold, pole or tree in your yard. Do not do any trimming near a power line.

What precautions should I take if I’m returning to a home or business that has been flooded?

Do not stand in water when operating switches, plugging in or unplugging appliances or resetting breakers or replacing fuses.
Do not attempt to reset breakers or replace fuses until all water has receded. Use caution. Some circuits above the flood level may still be energized.
Disconnect all electrical appliances before attempting to reset breakers or replace fuses. Be sure to wear dry shoes with rubber soles and stand on something dry and non-conductive, such as a dry piece of wood or wooden furniture.
Hold a dry and non-conductive “tool” such as a wooden stick or piece of PVC pipe in one hand when resetting breakers. Place the other hand behind your back. Do not make contact with the metal breaker box and other grounded objects in the area.
Call a licensed electrician if breakers will not reset and continue to trip. This condition might indicate a short circuit in your electrical system.
Check for water damage in all appliances and make sure cords and other parts are dry before re-plugging them into wall sockets.
Disconnect an appliance immediately if a breaker trips, a fuse blows, or you see smoke or smell a burning odor. Have it checked by a qualified appliance serviceman.

Why am I the only house on the block without power?

Fuses or circuit breakers in your home could have tripped and halted power, tree limbs could have fallen on the line serving your home, fuses on the transformer that serves your home may have tripped or could be damaged, and the primary line feeding the transformer could be damaged. If power has been restored and yours is still out, please call Cullman EC at (256) 737-3201 and make a report.

Why would Cullman EC crews pass my house without repairing anything?

If you see a Cullman EC crew passing but not stopping, it may be because work at a nearby location must be performed before electric service can be restored to you and your neighbors.

Can I pay an electrician to change my Cullman Electric service wires or cables?

No. Electricians are not allowed to work on cooperative lines from the pole or transformer to your house. Your electrician handles work that needs to be done from the meter to inside the house, including your circuit breakers and home wiring.

Why do I only have electricity in one part of my house?

You could have a tripped circuit breaker, a blown fuse or a broken connector or wire at one of the service leads to your house. Sometimes damage to these leads leaves only the 120-volt outlets (or some of them) working. In this case, larger appliances that need 240-volt service such as water heaters, air conditioners and ovens may be inoperable until repairs are made. It is safe to use the outlets you have available, while you check with an electrician. If it’s a problem with a service lead to your home, Cullman EC crews will repair the wires when they arrive to restore service.

The electrical service line from the pole to my house appears to be pulled away from the house. What should I do?

Call Cullman Electric Cooperative at (256) 737-3200 to report that your service drop wire appears to be loose. Our linemen will assess the situation and restore your service if it is safe to do so. However, if the conduit that houses wires attached to the side of your home or business, which is considered part of the house wiring, appears to be loose as well, our linemen will secure the site so that it can be worked on by a licensed electrician. After the repairs are made, Cullman EC linemen will be glad to restore your service.

If my lights come on, can I expect them to stay on?

Once service is restored, we make every effort to keep it on; however, as we repair other parts of our system, some interruptions may occur.

Why are my electric motors or machines running backward?

Turn off the machinery immediately and call Cullman EC. A lineman will determine whether electric power phases were connected properly.

What are the vulnerabilities of underground and overhead electric service?

Overhead lines are exposed to high winds and flying debris. Underground facilities can be subject to flooding. Repair and replacement time is about the same for equipment with similar functions. Repairs may take longer if an underground fault needs to be located and repaired.

How will the Cooperative restore streetlights and traffic signals?

Traffic signals will be prioritized at the request of the city or county that owns or maintains them. City or county workers may need to repair or replace damaged traffic signals and streetlights they own before Cullman EC can re-energize lines that power them.

Are there some general expectations regarding how long restoration might take following a severe storm?

The amount of time to restore power depends on the amount of damage inflicted by the storm. Rest assured that no matter how severe the damage, Cullman Electric Cooperative will not stop until the last service is restored. You have our word on it.