Frequently Asked Questions regarding Power Outages
How does DES manage increased calls during an outage?
During an outage, Dickson Electric has additional employees working around-the-clock to take your calls and report your outages. We will continue to have extra staff on-hand to answer your calls until all of our customers have power restored.
Does DES know when I have lost power?
With our new Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) in place, DES is alerted of power outages in our system as soon as they occur. However, we still encourage customers to call and report a power outage. To report an outage, call (615) 446-9051 and select option #1. You may also email us to report at outage: email@example.com.
What are Dickson Electric’s priorities for restoring service?
Our crews work around the clock until everyone has power again. Hospitals, police departments, fire stations, and other public health and safety facilities are our first priority. Outages are then prioritized by the number of customers affected. Please be patient with us during our power restoration efforts. During outages, we are working as quickly and safely as possible to restore your electric service.
A DES truck just drove by my house without stopping. Why?
The most efficient way for our crews to restore power is to begin from the substation and work toward individual homes and businesses. After the main distribution lines are functioning, we turn our efforts to repairing feeders or taps that will restore power to the greatest number of customers, and then concentrate our repair efforts on pockets of customers and then to individual homes and businesses.
If my power goes out, what should I check?
Check your circuit breakers or fuses to see if it is an isolated problem. You may also check to see if your neighbors are also without power. Next, examine your meter. If your meter box or any wires look damaged, call a certified electrician. They may need to make repairs before DES can reconnect power. If you do not find any problems, call us at (615) 446-9051 to report the outage.
Why does my neighbor have power and I do not?
There could be a few reasons for this. First, there may be damage to the service line leading only to your home. Your service wires do not affect your neighbor’s electric supply. Additionally, DES circuits can sometimes have very complex feeds, so your neighbor’s home may be served by a different circuit than your home. There may also be as many as three different phases on the pole in front of your home, and your neighbor may receive service from a different phase than you.
Who do I call if electrical wires have been pulled away from my house?
Dickson Electric is responsible for delivering power to your home’s connection point, and you (the homeowner) are responsible for repairs from the meter into your home, including wires located in the weatherhead. If service has been pulled away from your house, a qualified electrician must make repairs before power can be turned back on.
Do elected officials, employees, or other important individuals get special attention?
Is power automatically shut off during a tornado or other major storm?
No. DES will not turn off power unless instructed by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and, in some cases, emergency management authorities. In the interest of safety, we will not attempt to restore service until conditions improve.
How can I tell if a downed power line is still carrying electricity?
Any line could be energized and should be considered live, so never go near downed power lines. Electrocution is a very real danger when storms strike. Teach your children about the potential hazards and to stay away from all wires and cables. If you see a downed power line, always assume it is live and contact DES at (615) 446-9051 to report it.
What do I do if I have special medical needs?
If you or a family member relies on an electrical life-sustaining medical device in your home, you may call us at (615) 446-9051 to make sure that we are aware and so we may collect the required documentation to keep on file*. This will allow us to notify you if DES plans to shut off power to make repairs to our equipment. In some cases, severe weather can damage the electrical system so badly that it may take days to fix. If your life depends on electricity, it is important to have an emergency backup plan in place for such situations.
*Documentation of special medical needs will not prevent DES from disconnecting your power if you fail to pay your bill, nor does it change our service restoring priorities outlined above.
Are there safety concerns in using a portable generator?
Yes. Never operate a generator inside your home. Keep it outside for proper ventilation. Do not plug the generator into an electrical outlet. Plug appliances directly into the generator, and only use extension cords when necessary. The number of appliances a generator can safely power depends on its rated wattage. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for proper use and load. Only a licensed electrician should attempt to hook up a generator to the main electric panel of your home or business. If it is connected improperly, power can “back feed” into utility lines creating safety hazards.
Who do I call if a tree falls on or near a power line?
If a tree or limb falls on or near a power line, leave the work to us. To report trees or limbs near power lines, call (615) 441-6343. If trees or limbs cause an outage, report it by calling (615) 446-9051 and selecting option #1.
How long does food last after my power goes out?
According to the USDA, food stored in a fully-stocked freezer will stay cold for 48 hours (two days) after losing power. A half-full freezer will keep items frozen for 24 hours (one day.) An unopened refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about four hours after power is lost. Check the temperature inside your fridge once electricity is restored to determine if the food is safe to eat. It should be at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit with the freezer at or below zero degrees Fahrenheit.
To learn more about making the right decisions to keep your family safe during an emergency, visit
How can I best prepare for unforeseen power outages?
DES knows that power outages are inconvenient, and we do everything within our power to prevent unnecessary interruptions in service. However, outages will occur, and DES encourages customers to plan ahead for power outages and other emergencies.
DES recommends making an “Emergency Kit” to keep on-hand in case electric, gas, or water service is interrupted. An Emergency Kit could include:
- Bottled water (for each family member and any pets)
- Canned food (at least a three-day supply)
- Prescription medications
- Flashlight with batteries
- Battery powered or hand-crank radio
- NOAA Weather Radio with tone alerts
- Extra batteries
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities (gas, water lines)
- Manual can opener
- First-aid kit
- Baby food/formula
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Cell phone, keys
- Comfort items such as pillows, blankets, toys, games
- Important family documents (social security cards, insurance cards/forms, etc.)
- Pet supplies (food, water, medicines, crate or other pet carrier, sanitation items such as litter box or newspapers, paper towels, trash bags, etc.)
To find out more information on emergency preparedness, visit www.ready.gov or call 1-800-BE-READY.
How do I report a street light problem?
Call DES at (615) 446-9051 and select option #6.