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Home Page > Consumer Assistance > Consumer Tips > Tip of the Week

Consumer Tip Sunday, June 5, 2005

Those Annoying
Blinking Clocks!

Momentary power interruptions

Momentary power interruptions, or momentary outages, are brief disruptions in electric service, usually lasting no longer than a few seconds. These interruptions are the result of temporary faults in the distribution of electricity. The most common causes of momentary interruptions are lightning strikes, fallen branches, or animals, such as squirrels, coming into contact with power lines. Momentary outages can also happen during normal transmission and switching operations. For example, if a utility changes power suppliers to obtain a cheaper source of energy, a momentary interruption may occur as the system drops the old supplier and picks up the new one.

Are we having more outages?

In the past, these brief power interruptions weren't as noticeable to consumers as they are today. We have always experienced momentary power outages, but did not realize it.  Now, with the use of advanced electronics, appliances can be more sensitive to the slightest variations in the power supply.  The effects of the outages are mostly seen when they cause digital clocks in appliances such as VCRs, microwave ovens, stereos, and TVs to blink on and off.   

They are a sign that the system is protecting you

Though momentary outages are inconvenient, they serve a useful purpose. Much like a circuit breaker that "trips," interrupting the flow of power and therefore preventing damage to an electrical system, momentary power interruptions occur to prevent damage to the utility company's electrical system. Following a momentary outage, power is usually restored automatically, unlike a tripped circuit breaker that must be reset manually.

For more information about momentary power interuptions

The Florida Public Service Commission brochure, Electric Power Interruptions, provides information on what causes power interruptions, what you can do to help prevent them, and what to do when they do occur.