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Powerful Living Stronger Together Editor’s Words


Cooperatives band together to restore outages after winter storm


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Snow and downed lines southwest of Fairview in Cimarron Electric’s service territory. Photo by Robert Cannon/CEC


By the Numbers Blizzard Hits Western Oklahoma - February 24, 2013


1 lost transmission structure at G&T Western Farmers


10 14


co-ops incurred damages (9 distribution cooperatives and 1 generation & transmission cooperative)


cooperatives sent mutual aid crews to affected co-ops 30 affected counties, 13 counties with heavy damage 799 broken crossarms (to date) 2,083 broken poles (to date) 38,532 outages $6.6 million+ estimated co-op damages


s the sun rises in Oklahoma bringing a new day, we have all learned it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be ‘sunny.’ Anyone who has lived in Oklahoma long enough knows—weather patterns in the Sooner State can be quite unpredictable: from tornadoes and thunderstorms to ice storms and blizzards. This winter, for example, the western and northwestern part of the state were hit by a winter storm that brought ice and blizzard conditions to many counties in the state and left more than 35,000 elec- tric cooperative consumer-members in the dark. At the peak of the storm, 15 electric cooperatives were collectively reporting thousands of outages. This winter storm, which was declared ‘life-threatening’ by the National Weather Service, caused con- siderable damage to power line structures for some electric co- operatives. Because the storm left many roads nearly impassable, it took crews a few days to accurately assess the damage. As the week unfolded, the number of broken poles—just one of many factors used to gauge the severity of a system’s damage—had initially been assessed at the 500-mark. By the time essential ser- vices had power restored, the broken pole counts had exceeded the 2,000-mark.


Anna Politano Managing Editor, Oklahoma Living


Western Farmers Electric Cooperative’s crews work on repairs after the blizzard near their power plant in Mooreland, Okla. Photo by Danny Thomas/WFEC


A crew from People’s Electric Cooperative works on replacing poles in Kay Electric Cooperative’s service territory, east of Pond Creek. Photo by Austin Partida/KEC


Cooperation Among Cooperatives is one of the principles coopera- tives were built upon. This Principle No. 6 shines bright when cooperatives reach out to each other through a mutual aid agree- ment in which electric cooperatives agree to operate their own systems with a reduced force of personnel and equipment in order to help another cooperative during an emergency situation. This willingness and dedication to serve one another is what makes elec- tric cooperatives undeniably special. During the most recent winter storm, several cooperatives that were not impacted sent crews to help neighboring cooperatives safely restore power. These crews braved freezing conditions—many times in the eerie hours of the morning—treacherous roads, lack of sleep, and many stayed away from the comfort of their homes and families for days. Their sac- rifice, dedication and hard work leave me speechless at times. I also want to take this opportunity to express my respect and appreciation for local cooperative communicators. They do a lot of work behind the scenes to make sure that you—the member- owner—are informed as frequently as possible. These communica- tors work around the clock providing updates on social media sites, sharing pictures, writing press releases, updating media channels, and much more. More often than not, they are also the ones orga- nizing meals for the extra crews and booking hotel reservations to accommodate every lineman. You can be certain that your co-op’s staff members band together to work on your behalf. For preparedness purposes, Lt. Gov.Todd Lamb declared a State of Emergency just prior to the storm for 56 counties in Oklahoma. Electric cooperatives worked together to restore power as safely and quickly as they could. Although they faced trying circumstances, they did not stop until every member had power restored. At the end of the day, when the sun sets, what matters is knowing that you—at the end of the line—have light again.


APRIL 2013 5


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