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Double Throw Switch Program

Members purchase standby generators in order to have electricity for use when severe weather conditions – such as ice storms, strong winds, and tornadoes – cause electric service interruption.

It is essential that in each service location (meter) with a standby generator, a double-throw switch be installed. This is a safety device for both the member and service personnel working on the line of the cooperative. This switch has a positive mechanism that permits the flow of electricity from only one source at a time. Without it, power from the generator could flow back into the line and cause a serious injury or death to a person working on the main line. For you, without this device, damage could occur to the member’s equipment when the power from the main line is restored.

Double throw switches are expensive, but necessary, so to protect both the line crew and you the cooperative will subsidize, provide, and install this device for at your location. The cooperatives standard double throw switch installation is a single phase 200 amp switch – The member investment is $150. For all other double throw switch installations – the cooperative will pay $465 towards the cost of the equipment to be installed the member is responsible for the balance of the costs.

If you have a standby generator and do not have a double-throw switch permanently installed, please make arrangements to do so immediately. The Cooperative will furnish and install for it’s members a 200 amp double throw switch for $150 and will pay $450 toward the cost of all other double throw switches.

Safety for the members and the line personnel is important for everyone. Call 336-2803 for more information or e-mail our safety director at

Tips on Buying Generators

Electricity plays an important part in keeping the milking, ventilation, feeding, watering and refrigeration equipment running on our farms. That’s why a standby generator could be a worthwhile investment. But how do you choose the right generator for your operation? To help you with your selection, the National Food and Energy Council offers these recommendations:

  • Most of all, remember that an emergency generator is not designed to power all electrical equipment at one time. The generator should, however, be large enough to allow life-sustaining equipment and equipment needed to maintain the quality of perishable commodities operating as needed.
  • Begin by listing each major electrical heat, light and power load on your farmstead. Record the size of each in terms of kilowatts.
  • Identify the loads that can be interrupted for extended periods (such as grain drying and some lighting). Note those which are critical loads such as milking equipment, water pumping, refrigeration, ventilation and feeding. This step will help determine whether a small capacity, portable generator can be “shared” among loads that can be delayed or sequenced.
  • The number and size of electric motors that must be started is very important. Because a motor’s starting current is three to five time greater than its running current, the generator must be sized to handle the starting current of the largest motor, plus all other electrical loads that will be operated at the same time.
  • Once you have an estimate of the minimum required load, determine whether a tractor-driven generator or a stationary engine-driven unit can best be used. If a livestock or poultry operation is often left unattended, an engine-driven generator that starts automatically will provide greatest assurance of available power for essential equipment.
  • Once you’ve acquired a standby generator, proper maintenance of that generator is also very important. Establish a periodic starting schedule to exercise the generator. Also, keep bearings lubricated and electrical contacts clean. Operate a tractor-driven generator at least one hour every three months. Engine-driven units should be operated more frequently to check battery charge levels and other starting components.

It is important to remember that the voltage produced by a standby unit can not be regulated as well as power delivered by Niobrara Valley Electric. As equipment turns on and off, the load on the tractor and generator varies. The voltage will vary according to the type and size of load. As mentioned above, a motor will draw up to five times as much power to start as it does to run. When the motor starts, the voltage will drop. When it turns off, the loss of load will cause the motor to speed up. The increase speed raises the voltage until the governor on the motor slows its speed.

The sudden ups and downs of the voltage can be tolerated by most motor driven equipment. However, sensitive electronic parts have a very narrow voltage tolerance. Also, delicate circuit boards tend to fail with over voltage conditions. Examples of sensitive electronic equipment are: televisions, VCR’s, microwaves and computers.

If electronic equipment must be operated with a standby power source, a power conditioner should be used. It will act as a buffer to filter and condition the power before it reaches the electronic equipment. Power conditioners are recommended for every day use for computers. An electronic appliance store can help you select a unit to fit your needs.

Keep these tips in mind when selecting a standby power unit.

Contact Us

NVEMC can be reached by calling
(402) 336-2803 or (800) 967-1987.

Monday – Friday
8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. 

You can also reach us by email at