Generator Backfeed

The use of portable or permanently installed generators in homes and businesses has become increasingly popular. When the power goes out due to storms, generators can provide safety, comfort and security to your family or business. Unfortunately, not everyone understands the requirements for safe installation and operation of a generator. Knowing the hazards can prevent equipment damage, fires, serious injury and death.

The Backfeed Hazard

Backfeed is a dangerous condition that occurs when electricity produced from a portable generator flows through portions of the wiring within the structure, feeds back electricity through the electric meter and ends up energizing the utility-owned transformer in reverse of its normal operation. The most common cause of this is when a person plugs their generator output into a household wall outlet in hopes of energizing the other outlets throughout the home.  A home's electrical system isn't built for this, and it can cause fires!  If you want to safely power your home with a portable generator, have a licensed electrician install a double-throw switch.

Size of Generator

Proper sizing, voltage selection and identifying the proper installation location are all important. When choosing the size and voltage, it is important to consider the equipment you plan to operate. 

Safety Concerns of Portable Generators 

Generators burn petroleum-based fuels to produce electricity and their exhaust produces Carbon Monoxide (CO). This tasteless and odorless toxic gas is a by-product of incomplete combustion and can lead to CO poisoning. If proper installation and combustible air requirements are not met, serious injury and death can occur. Early detection is key to staying safe. Using a CO detector is recommended in all homes and businesses. If you suspect you have been exposed to CO, seek medical attention immediately. 

Electric Safety     Electric Safety

Safety is our top priority. Each year, using a special high-voltage safety trailer and tabletop equipment, we educate thousands of children and adults about electrical safety.  If you’re interested in having a safety demonstration brought to your school or group, just call us at 1-.

A Midwest Energy lineman utilizes a special high-voltage safety trailer demonstration at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson. During the demonstration, a pineapple is electrified to show the hazards of touching a live powerline. Brian Dreiling, Midwest Energy employee, uses a tabletop electric and gas safety demonstration kit to educate elementary-aged children about electricity and gas.


If you see a downed power line:
  • NEVER touch a fallen power line, or anything or anyone in contact the wire.
  • Keep people and pets 20 feet from fallen electric wires.
  • Do not drive over a fallen power line.
  • Call 911 or Midwest Energy, at 1- immediately to report a fallen power line.
If a power line touches your car:
  • Stay inside! The safest place is in your car. The ground around your car may be energized.
  • Use your cell phone to call 911.  
  • Roll down your window to warn others to stay away. Anyone who touches the car or ground around the vehicle may be injured.
  • Fire department, police and Midwest Energy workers will tell you when it is safe to get out of the vehicle.
  • If you must exit the vehicle due to fire, keep your hands at your sides and jump clear of the vehicle, so you are not touching the car when your feet hit the ground.  Keep both feet close together and shuffle away from the vehicle without picking up your feet.

Call 811 before you dig!An outline of Kansas filled with green. “Kansas811” is in yellow text and overlaid on the state. Call 811 before you dig.

Gas, electric, water, telecommunications and sewer lines are just some of the utilities buried underground, sometimes at very shallow depths.

 Before you move dirt for any reason – installing a sprinkler system, building a shed, even planting a tree – you should call Kansas One Call by dialing 811.  When you call two business days in advance of digging, crews will locate and mark all underground utilities at no charge to you.  By knowing what is below ground, you can save yourself the headache and expense of repairing any utility lines you could damage by digging into them.

Planting and trimming trees near powerlines

  • Before you plant trees, look up to ensure they won’t grow into nearby power lines in coming years.  (Also, don’t forget to call 811 before you dig so as not to dig into underground wires!).
  • When pruning trees, ensure that branches won’t contact wires when you’re sawing, or when they’re falling.  Kansas law prohibits unqualified persons from trimming trees within 10 feet of power lines.  If in doubt, contact a professional tree service that has special equipment to safely work near wires. 
  •  Midwest Energy trims trees around lines in our easements along roads and alleys on a four-year cycle.  Service lines running from the pole to a home or business are the homeowner's responsiblity, but unqualified persons should never trim within 10 feet of power lines.  Midwest Energy will temporarily remove service lines, free of charge, for homeowners who want to trim trees on their property.  Call us at 1- to schedule this service.

Working and playing around electrical equipment

  • Never enter a substation for any reason!  Substations contain very high voltage equipment, and you don’t even need to touch it to get shocked. If a pet, ball, model airplane or anything else enters a substation, call Midwest Energy at 1- and we’ll happily get it for you. 
  • Photo of a pad-mounted transformer in the yard of a Midwest Energy member.Keep children and pets away from pad-mounted transformers, found in many yards.  Never allow children to climb on these, and never attempt to open one yourself!  If you find one open, please call us at 1- and we’ll be right there to secure it.
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