National Grid
Frequently Asked Questions What are the most common causes of power outages? Although we are committed to providing you with the most reliable service possible, events that are beyond our control sometimes occur. Everything from weather, animals and emergencies can trigger a power outage. Some outages are planned in advance when crews need to perform upgrades and repairs.

Car accidents, lightning, high winds, winter storms—whatever the cause, we do our best to restore power as quickly as possible.

Why do my neighbors sometimes have power during an outage when I don't? Many factors can cause this situation. Your neighbors may be on a different supply line, or there may be trouble just on the portion supplying your immediate area. The cause of the outage may be isolated to one transformer or a group of transformers, or the problem may affect only the power lines connecting to your residence.

What if I only have electricity in part of my house? Power comes into your house through a piece of electrical equipment called the service panel. From your home's service panel, electricity is routed through individual circuits to different parts of the house. Each circuit is protected by a circuit breaker or fuse. When you have power in some circuits but not others, the first thing you should check is whether a circuit breaker has tripped or a fuse is blown.

You may have a tripped circuit breaker, a blown fuse, or a broken connector or wire at one of the service leads to your house. Damage to these leads sometimes 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 conditioning 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 there is a problem with the service lead to your home, our crews will repair the wires when they arrive to restore service.

If your breakers or fuses are okay, there may be another cause. Most houses are supplied with electricity through three service wires. If one of the wires breaks or becomes damaged, you may have power in some circuits. Heavy-duty electric appliances such as air conditioners, hot water heaters, clothes dryers, or ranges may not operate. In these cases, you will need to contact us at 1-800-465-1212.

Why can't you tell me exactly when my power will be restored? Several factors are involved in service restoration that affect our ability to predict when restoration will occur. With your initial call, we may provide you with an estimated time for restoration based on current work volume. When a crew arrives to make repairs, the cause of the outage must be investigated. The crew may encounter complex problems that require additional time, equipment or crews. Field crews are required to provide status updates on restoration efforts while on site. During major storms, estimated restoration is based on our estimate of the total time it will take to restore power to all customers.

Widespread damage from a severe storm may make it impossible to accurately predict when a particular customer's power will be restored—especially in the early phases of an outage when the extent of the damage is being assessed. Once the extent of damage is understood, restoration times are affected by the degree of damage to our facilities. High-voltage transmission lines must be given first priority because they supply electricity to the entire distribution system. Substations are repaired next in order to energize local distribution lines. A distribution line serving a local area may have multiple damage locations, all of which must be found and repaired. All these factors affect our ability to predict when a specific customer's power will be restored.

Why did my power come back on, then go off again a few minutes later? Restoring power to your home is a complex and dangerous job. Sometimes, after a line is repaired in one location, other damage causes the line to go out again. At other times, it may be necessary to turn off your power once more to safely repair other problems. In any case, our crews work to restore your power again as soon as safely possible. If your power comes back on, then goes off again, please contact us at 1-800-465-1212.

If power goes out, do I need to throw out all the food in my refrigerator and freezer? Try to leave the refrigerator or freezer doors closed during a power outage. If the doors remain closed, refrigerated food can stay cool for about six to nine hours. Frozen food can remain safe for up to 24 hours.

What are the priorities for service restoration? First, we will work around the clock until service is restored, though daylight hours are needed for most activities. Safety of personnel and the public is 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, water, sanitation and transportation providers.
  • Making repairs to electrical facilities that will return service to the largest number of customers in the shortest period of time, then the next largest number and so on until power is returned to everyone.
  • The first responsibility in a major storm is for the power company to restore electricity to hospitals, police stations and other vital public services. At the same time, we must be certain that all real and potential hazards to the public, such as snapped or leaning utility poles, uprooted trees on the electric lines or fallen wires, are cleared. Before we can restore service to your street, we must repair damaged substations, main electric lines and wires that feed power to streets such as yours. Next, we repair any downed or damaged wires between utility poles and individual homes.
Why at times does it seem to take so long to restore my power? When damage is widespread—such as after a severe storm—it may be impossible to restore electric service to everyone at the same time. In such cases, we give priority to hospitals, police and fire departments, water systems, and communication facilities. After that, we make repairs based on restoring power to the greatest number of customers in the shortest amount of time. Sometimes your circuit may be among the first repaired and other times it may take longer. When there is a delay in restoring your power, we appreciate your patience.

Why did a service truck go through my neighborhood without stopping to restore my power? Our service crews must first tackle public safety hazards and make repairs that restore power to hospitals or police and fire departments. A truck may have passed your home on the way to one of these high-priority assignments.

When should I call? Once your neighborhood gets electric service restored, if you're still without power, please call us at 1-800-465-1212. Have your account number or phone number available when you call to report your outage and our automated system will record your information and ensure a report is generated to have your service restored.

Directly after a storm, we will know if large power lines have been damaged and you are without power. So rather than call us right away, please help us keep the phone lines open. If you need to report an emergency like a downed power line or electrical equipment that is sparking and dangerous, please call immediately at 1-800-465-1212.

How does National Grid provide for people with special medical problems, such as those on life-sustaining medical equipment? Any customer who has electrically operated medical equipment in their home that is necessary to sustain life or avoid serious medical complications may participate in our Life Support Program, if eligible. For more information, visit Life-Sustaining Equipment.

Does National Grid pay for damage to appliances, electronic equipment or other personal property damaged in a power loss or during power restoration? We do not reimburse for damages to household equipment or personal property caused by storms or other acts of nature. Please contact your insurance company in such instances. Similarly, we do not reimburse for damage resulting from car accidents or other emergency conditions that require us to temporarily turn off power at the request of police or fire departments.

If you are experiencing dim or flickering lights, please call us at 1-800-465-1212. In some cases, you may need to have your home electrical system checked by a certified electrical contractor. Until the problem is resolved, itís a good idea to take precautions such as unplugging or limiting use of electronically sensitive or nonessential appliances.

Does National Grid supply generators to customers? No, we do not supply generators. In certain situations, generators can be obtained from your local fire department. Please contact them for more information.