Okanogan County Electric Cooperative (OCEC) has moved into summer wildfire season system monitoring. This means that the line crew has disabled the automatic reclosing on the field recloser circuit breakers to prevent electric equipment from igniting or contributing to wildfires.
The reclosers on the distribution lines will be disabled until the end of fire season. When a red-flag warning is issued for our area, OCEC will also disable the automatic reclosing at the substations until the warning is lifted, OCEC said.
Disabling reclosers, either in elevated fire risk or red-flag conditions, has the effect of both lengthening the duration and increasing the number of outages while reducing the possibility of “sparks” from contacts to the line.
A recloser is an automatic high-voltage electric switch that operates much like a circuit breaker in your home. When the reclosers are set on “non-reclose” the breaker will operate/open and the line will be de-energized until OCEC crews can manually inspect the line for problems.
Once the line is manually inspected and is confirmed all-clear, the line will be re-energized. Under normal conditions, reclosers — which operate like circuit breakers — would automatically de-energize a power line when it experiences a fault, and then quickly “reclose” to restore power. Customers experience this as a momentary “blink” in power, said Greg Mendonca, OCEC general manager.