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PAGE 2 | SEPTEMBER 2011 Reliable Service (continued from page 1)


that the cooperative has certain financial obligations and must set rates that allow it to meet them while maintaining the system at a level of acceptable reliability. No electric system is 100 percent reliable 100 percent of the


time. It’s simply not possible when factors like severe weather are beyond our control. An example of a situation impacting reliability and costs is the storm that passed through our service territory on Aug. 5. In one fell swoop, high winds broke a pole’s crossarm and another pole itself in the same area near Four Corners, Oklahoma. We had to shut power off to the area to safely restore power. The damage alone cost the cooperative more than $3,500 in materials, not including labor costs, and the outage was an hour long. Some people say to bury the lines


to avoid storm damage like this. That would be great if underground lines didn’t pose their own set of challenges and costs. For example, burying all the overhead lines in the state of Oklahoma would cost billions of dollars according to a recent study. Then, if something happens underground, it often takes longer and costs more to identify the problem than if the lines were overhead. Our Engineering department


regularly reviews the electric system’s performance to identify areas of improvement. Historically, our system has been in the 99 percent range on the Average Service Availability Index (ASAI). The ASAI measures the total amount of time power is available to a member by dividing the number of customer hours available by the number of customer hours served. We invest in the cooperative’s system to grow and maintain


it. As prices for equipment such as poles, wires, lines and transformers rise, it gets more expensive to maintain our system.


We try to set our rates to meet these increasing costs for three to five years so that we don’t have to raise rates frequently. Our goal is to strike a balance between improving our system while maintaining our margins. Margins determine the cooperative’s loan interest rates and discounts as well as the amount of capital credits, if any, the cooperative is able to return to its membership. In 2010, 57 cents of every dollar you paid for electricity went


toward wholesale power costs. Another 13 cents went toward the cooperative’s system so that 70 percent of every dollar you paid went directly to the cost of your power. The remaining 30 cents of every dollar went toward interest, customer service and administrative expenses. We understand that blinks and


power outages also have a cost to our members, especially those with businesses. If you don’t have power, you don’t have a computer and you typically can’t sell your product. You can’t operate machinery powered by electricity, which affects many of our agricultural and large power members, not to mention our financial service providers, Main Street and all other small business members. Without electric power, every one of us is crippled until that power is restored. While the cooperative may not see these costs, we understand them and are aware of them. The bottom line is that our members


are our owners and we constantly strive to improve our system’s reliability. While some things such as weather and acts of God are beyond our control, we constantly work on our response to any outage that may occur to restore


power as quickly, efficiently and safely as possible. Input from members like yourself add value to our approach to improve reliability. Contact us with your comments at 800-522-3315 or memberservice@tri-countyelectric.coop.


The cooperative’s main office in Hooker will be closed Sept. 5 in


observance of Labor Day. Members can still make payments or report an outage by calling our toll-free number at 800-522-3315.


Visit www.tri-countyelectric.coop to manage your account anytime.


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