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PAGE 2 | SEPTEMBER 2013


Power to the people (cont.)


due to Mother Nature will always be unavoidable, the cooperative has implemented several measures to help address system weaknesses.


Vegetation Management Many issues were caused by trees too close to the cooperative’s right of way. When large branches fell due to the ice, they caused outages. Today, a robust vegetation management program is in place across the cooperative’s system to ensure trees and foliage are not too close to power lines. Members are encouraged to carefully consider the placement of their trees because this maintenance is costly. The best way to avoid that cost is to plant trees a safe distance from power lines. The cooperative offers literature on tree planting and can point members to local sources who will help them find the right place for their tree.


Poles, Spans and Wires Ice on the power lines is heavy. When poles need to be replaced or new service needs to be constructed, the cooperative is installing stronger poles with shorter spans between them. At the same time, the cooperative is using thicker wire for the line. The lines will be able to withstand more weight although they won’t be indestructible. While this construction costs slightly more than using fewer, smaller poles and thinner wire, the cooperative feels the investment is worth the benefit of fewer outages for members.


PAUL KEARNS, LEFT, AND BRET NAGELY WORK TO CONVERT POWER IN AN ALLEY IN GUYMON.


Pole Inspection and Treatment After the ice storms of 2006 and 2007, the cooperative inspected and treated every acquired pole over a three year period, while also keeping its regular treatment schedule on the pre-acquisition system. In those three years, the pole failure rate was from 8 to 11 percent each year. When a pole fails inspection, it must be replaced. In 2013, the failure rate was 1.14 percent. A marked improvement due to the cooperative’s proactive approach to maintenance.


Power Quality When the cooperative acquired new service territory in 2006, it acquired a different system. That system was designed to different standards and used different equipment. The cooperative is investing in tying the two systems together wherever possible and moving to a single standard of equipment and construction. That means less inventory for the cooperative to maintain to keep power flowing to its members and reduce costs.


“When we make decisions today, we are usually looking 20 years down the road,” CEO Jack Perkins said. “We want to lower maintenance costs while delivering the safe, reliable and quality power members will need in the future.”


Another way the cooperative is improving power quality is by replacing and upgrading distribution substations in some areas. By increasing the voltage at these substations, members will receive higher quality power over the long distances it must travel in some areas. This also positions the cooperative to meet the rising electrical demand of members. From the early days of electricity when the main power demand was lighting to today when a myriad of devices are powered, the needs of cooperative members have changed and the cooperative must ensure it’s ready to meet those needs.


Reducing blinks


Blinks occur when the system is operating properly but members often perceive them as outages. The cooperative is economically changing the fuses it uses so that when an issue occurs, an isolated, small number of members will have an outage rather than a larger widespread number of members having a blink.


Affordability “When we make decisions today, we are usually looking 20 years down the road,” CEO Jack Perkins said. “We want to lower maintenance costs while delivering the safe, reliable and quality power members will need in the future.” n


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