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New tools help


Choctaw Electric Cooperative prepare for the worst.


Chain saw? Check. Fuel? Check. Gloves, hand tools and wedge clamps? Check. Kiss your family goodbye? Check.


These are just a few of the items on a your co-op employee’s “to do list” when an ice storm tightens it’s grip on Choctaw Electric Cooperative (CEC)service territory. When that happens, preparedness is everything.


Thankfully, a new weather tool, currently available to utilities and weather services nationwide, promises to be if not a game changer for utility ground forces, at the very least a most helpful tool in the arsenal of storm preparedness.


Created by veteran electric cooperative professional Sid Sperry and National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Piltz, the Sperry-Piltz Index charts and predicts the potential severity of ice storms in similar fashion to hurricane or even tornado forecasting.


“It’s the tool you never want to have to use.”


JIM MALONE DIRECTOR OF ENGINEERING AND OPERATIONS


Jim Malone, director of engineering and operations at Choctaw Electric Cooperative, said CEC hasn’t had the opportunity to use the index too often. “And that’s a good thing,” Malone said. “It’s the tool you never want to have to use.”


Still, he has viewed it enough to understand the benefits."It helps us prepare,” Malone said.


Co-op personnel can view


the ice index online to study the path of the approaching storm, maps of predicted ice accumulations, temperatures and anticipated wind speeds. Knowing what parts of CEC service territory might get hit the hardest will help Malone and other staff members mobilize co-op forces and put contract crews on call as much as 48 hours in advance.


“We can tell them to get their gear ready, sharpen their chainsaws, fuel up their vehicles and prepare for some long hours,” he said. If the index shows a major ice storm is likely, Malone can order additional supplies and get them moving toward the co-op before the weather worsens. Because a major storm can place heavy demand on available contractors, any advance warning will help CEC reserve crews that much earlier.


CEC has not suffered a major ice storm in over 13 years. That storm on December 25, 2000 destroyed 1,700 poles,


downed lines for 1,820 miles, and left 8,500 members without power, some for upwards of eighteen days. While Malone is adamant about his desire to avoid another event like that, he knows there is only so much any weather tool can do.


"We can't prevent a storm from happening, but we can be better prepared for it when it arrives,” he said.


A full report on the Sperry-Piltz Ice Index appears in the February 2013 issue of Oklahoma Living. View it online at www.ok-living.coop.■


inside•your•co-op | 9


the next ICE AGE


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