Manager's Message: Every Power Outage is a Chance to Learn
Writing this as our crews have just finished cleaning up from the November 17 storm, I’m reminded that every power outage is a learning experience for us.
Ideally, of course, we would never have power outages, or blinks. But that’s not the way electric distribution systems work, so instead of wishing for the impossible, we focus on eliminating potential problems.
For instance, trees are one of the most significant causes of power outages during wind storms, so we invest time and money every year into our right-of-way clearing program. Since 2006, we’ve nearly completed clearing all 3,400 miles of our system.
The next challenges are 1) keeping those rights-of-way clear for the future, and 2) looking out for the taller trees beyond our right-of-way that could still come down into our lines. We’ll be doing more with herbicides sooner, to stop trees before they grow where they shouldn’t.
The ash tree problem of the past few years has also kept us busy, as many ash trees that were healthy when we cleared the circuit have since been infested and killed by emerald ash borers. They’re now considered “danger trees” and we’re being proactive, working with property owners to take care of them before they cause problems.
Our crews have also been doing circuit-by-circuit inspections, looking for loose connections, worn equipment, or other areas that need just a little work now, to prevent problems later.
This work is in addition to our longer-term work plan, where our engineers review each circuit to make sure it’s working efficiently to serve the members it reaches.
We also know that communication is essential, back and forth between dispatchers and crews, and between our office and our members. We’ve worked with area telephone companies to get the best use of our phone lines.
Still, even with sending calls to a large regional cooperative call center, not everyone can get through. Especially on that Sunday in November, when the storm blasted hard through most of the Midwest. With millions of people out of power, there just weren’t enough phone lines or dispatchers to take every call.
Facebook is not meant to be a substitute for calling, but it is a useful clearinghouse for information and we will continue developing our presence on Facebook, and soon on Twitter, to help keep the conversation going.
Our mission, as always, is to provide you and your family with energy and other services to improve your quality of life. Making sure your power is there when you need it is the foundation for everything we do.