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When an outage occurs, many of our members rely on generators to power their homes. Before you use one, DEC advises you to do your research to ensure your safety as well as the safety of Co-op employees. While permanent generators have an automatic transfer switch, a portable generator without one — plugged directly into a home — can cause electricity to backfeed onto the grid, which poses a potential hazard for lineworkers. The same is true for members who attempt to use the energy stored in their EV’s battery to power large appliances during outages. In both cases, the breaker connecting the battery or generator to the lines must be flipped to prevent a backfeed. According to DEC’s manager of energy services Lucas Zlock, doing so can prevent the injury or possible death of lineworkers. “Lineworkers always test before they start working on equipment, but in that split second you decide to charge, they may actively be in contact with the lines,” Zlock says. Data scientist Grace Malcom, who leads a renewable energy strategy group at the Co-op, says she hopes that as technology progresses, members continue to stay informed about how to use it safely. “I hope they reach out to their utility, and that they’re aware of the repercussions of these decisions,” Malcom says. “I hope they’re making choices that keep them safe, keep our lineworkers safe and help us make sure our grid is still strong.”

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