Where does our electricity come from?

Community Electric Cooperative is a member-owner of Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC). The Cooperative purchases a majority of its wholesale electricity from ODEC. The Cooperative also purchases a small portion of its wholesale requirements from the Southeastern Power Administration.

Old Dominion Electric Cooperative owns a portion of the North Anna Nuclear Plant, 50% interest in a coal-fired power plant in Clover, Virginia, and three combustion turbine plants in Rock Springs, Maryland, Fauquier County, Virginia, and Louisa County, Virginia. Additional power requirements for ODEC are met through wholesale power contracts with other utilities or power producers.

How do I get power?

Electricity can be produced in several ways, such as at plants that burn coal or natural gas, hydroelectric plants that use the force of rushing water, and nuclear plants that split atoms. The energy produced goes through a generator, which in turn makes electricity.

From the generator, the electricity is sent over transmission lines to a substation. A substation lowers the voltage so that it can be distributed to your home. From the substation, the electricity travels through distribution lines to a pole transformer. In places where lines are underground, a green pad mounted transformer is used to lower the voltage once again before the electricity enters your home.

How is service restored?

Outages can be caused by a variety of reasons or a combination of reasons. Weather is the main contributor to system outages, but other items can cause problems. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent all outages. One concept that is hard for many members to understand is the delivery of power to the Cooperative's distribution network. Community Electric Cooperative is a Distribution Cooperative. This means that the Cooperative does not generate any electricity, it merely maintains the lines that deliver power to the member.

Service Restoration Priorities

Transmission lines - These are high-voltage lines that move bulk electricity from a generating plant to a substation or between substations.

Substations - Substations are electrical facilities that contain equipment for switching or regulating the voltage of electricity.

Main distribution lines - These are the 7,200-volt lines that you see along the roadways.

Tap lines - Tap lines are electric feeder lines with limited capacity that run from a main distribution line to a few consumers.

Individual service - This is the line that runs from the transformer to your meter.

What about the use of a generator?

A generator can be a wonderful tool during an outage, but it can also be extremely dangerous. If used incorrectly, a generator can cause serious harm or even death. It is important that when using your generator, you keep the following safety tips in mind...you just may save a life.

  1. Know your generator! Read all the information on installation, safety, and maintenance, and follow instructions regarding maintenance and testing. When a generator is not properly installed, it can "back-feed" through the transformer and produce an output of 7,200 volts on the distribution line. As a result, a line crew working on the system would be put in danger.
  2. For everyone's sake, isolate your generator from the co-op's power lines. This means you should connect appliances or other devices directly to the generator with the appropriate-sized cords. If you connect it directly to your home's wiring, a double-throw switch is required to separate your generator from the co-op's system.
  3. Take care when fueling your generator. Never try to refuel the unit while it is operating. Avoid spilling gasoline or other fuels on hot components.
  4. Provide adequate ventilation and air cooling for the generator to prevent overheating and the accumulation of toxic exhaust fumes. Do not install your generator in a basement, attached garage, or any closed area. Exhaust gases contain carbon monoxide, which is an odorless, invisible, poisonous gas.

If you have additional questions, please contact CEC. We will be glad to work with you to make sure your generator is sized and connected properly.

What to do during an extended outage?

If electricity is the only source of heat for your home, go in and out of the house as little as possible during cold weather.

Keep drapes and shades closed on the shady side of the house to keep the heat in. If the sun is bright open the shades to warm the house on the southern exposure.

Food will remain frozen for up to 2 days. Food will keep for approximately 1 day in the refrigerator if the door is not opened. Every time the door is opened, the length of time food will keep is reduced. The condition and age of the refrigerator and freezer door gaskets are key factors in the length of time food will keep before thawing or spoiling.

Use a cooler to store milk, fruit, and other frequently used foods to reduce the number of times the door is opened.

In cold weather, the inside house temperature will have to fall below 32 degrees Fahrenheit for the freezing of water pipes to begin. It may be helpful to open faucets and let them drip until power is restored. Turning the water heater breaker off until the water system is completely full again may prevent damage to the heating elements after power is restored.

Layered blankets or clothing will keep you warmer than one single layer. Air trapped between the layers provides insulation to help retain body heat.

Food and water safety before and after power outages.

How to prepare for an extended outage?
  • Always keep an alternative source of light on hand. Store flashlights, batteries, candles, matches, oil lamps, and fuel in a safe, convenient, and established location.
  • Stock your pantry with nonperishable food items that do not need cooking. Suggested items are canned milk, fruit, soup, cereal, peanut butter, bread, canned meat or fish, and bottled water. Also keep a supply of disposable plates, bowls, and utensils, along with a manually operated can opener.
  • Keep your gas grill available year-round for cooking during an outage.
  • Keep your automobile gas tank full.
  • Maintain a supply of cash. Credit cards and ATM machines may not work if the power is out.
  • Store adequate water for cooking and flushing toilets (especially if you are on a well with a pump powered by electricity). If you have enough time before inclement weather hits, fill the bathtub with water for use in flushing commodes and other domestic uses. Water heaters usually provide up to 40 gallons of storage.
  • Plan for another source of heating in the event of a cold weather outage. If you have a fireplace or wood stove, keep adequate kindling and firewood on hand. Have extra clothing, blankets, or sleeping bags available.
  • Keep a portable radio, a supply of fresh batteries, and a wind-up clock on hand. The radio will bring you weather reports and updated information from CEC on power restoration efforts.
  • Make sure that you have a corded phone available. Cordless phones will not work without electricity. If you have a cell phone, an auto adapter may be needed to recharge your phone.
  • Plan ahead for alternate sources of power or alternate lodging if someone in your household depends on electricity to operate life support systems.
  • Place your portable generator outside, never in the house, garage, attic, crawl space, or basement. Make sure your generator is connected safely; an improperly connected generator can cause serious injury or death.

For more information, visit the Virginia Department of Emergency Management website.

Food and water safety before and after power outages.

Where can I find the 2020 Rate Change FAQs?

2023 Rate Change FAQs

Community Electric Co-op announces a new rate structure, effective for members April 2020.  Safety, reliability and affordability remain the main focus of our board and staff at CEC.  We are a member-owned cooperative, and strive every day to provide the reliable, quality service you have come to know and expect.  Any decision to implement a new rate structure is not done lightly and we have done everything possible to minimize the impact on the members.

Members will see the greatest difference in the new rate structures in the base charge, and low-use members will have the greatest impact.  By structuring the new rates around the base charge, we are ensuring that expectations for continuous power and outstanding member services are met.  It gives each member an equitable share of the Cooperative’s operations.  It also provides funds that must be invested to maintain the safety, reliability and affordability of the Cooperative that you can continue to count on for years to come.