Employee and Member Dedication Outlast Storm
By: Ken Schlimgen, General Manager
Spring Storm Wesley traveled across South Dakota and impacted Central Electric beginning Wednesday April 10. The cooperative had outages across six counties with reports of ice the size of pop cans on our lines in the Stickney area. Our lineman did venture out on Wednesday to restore power where possible. Most of the work was kept very close to our warehouses as conditions just kept getting worse throughout the day and our crews were called in before sunset.
Despite the poor visibility and road conditions on Thursday, our employees were asked to report to work at 10 a.m. This was the peak of the storm and outages across our state impacted 9,400 rural electric members across 27 counties.
Of course this was not the first winter storm our employees have experienced. On Monday and Tuesday, preparations were being made. Our storm checklist of responsibilities was reviewed, fuel tanks were filled, generator was ready to go, tire chains were prepared, trucks were stocked, and the dispatch center was ready to take calls. We were prepared for the worst and hoping for the best.
I admire the dedication of our employees and our members especially during events like Storm Wesley. Our linemen, both Central Electric’s and the help we received from other electric cooperatives, worked well into the evening hours. Brian Bultje and I stayed until after 11 p.m. each night waiting for the last person to return to the warehouse. No complaining from anyone, and you almost had to convince them to quit for the day.
By Saturday at 8 p.m., power was restored to all residential accounts. Crews worked Sunday to make more permanent repairs and to respond to outage calls that came in throughout the night. We have 30+ poles to replace and numerous line breaks to repair. We expect to discover more issues once road conditions improve, and we travel across our system.
Many thanks to the members who assisted our crews with pushing snow and pulling our trucks out of the mud and snow. A big thanks to those members who let us know where the lines or poles were down.
I need to give a huge THANK YOU to so many people. Many thanks to the members who assisted our crews with pushing snow and pulling our trucks out of the mud and snow. A big thanks to those members who let us know where the lines or poles were down. It is a huge help to know where to send crews and the best route to get there when road conditions are so poor. Thanks to everyone for your patience as we worked to get your power back on.
A big thanks to Arden Lemke. Arden brought snow removal equipment to our office on Tuesday. His hard work allowed us to get equipment in and out of our warehouse throughout the storm. I also need to thank the county and state employees for the help they provided in opening roads and being one phone call away. And a big shout out to Oahe Electric of Blunt, West Central Electric of Murdo, and Northern Electric of Bath. Your crews and equipment recharged our efforts and made such a huge difference in the restoration of power to our members.
After a major event like Spring Storm Wesley, we review what went well and what areas we can improve in. What we did well with everyone’s help was get power restored rather quickly in some very tough conditions without a single accident. Where we need to improve is in the area of updating phone numbers for members, county workers, and others. This information is so important during our storm restoration efforts. Please go online, put a note in your bill, or call our office and make sure your phone information is current.
By the time you read this, people will be enjoying the outdoors and field work will be starting. Be aware of your surroundings this spring. Keep in mind, there could still be damaged poles, or downed wires in and along roads, ditches, and fields. If you see a problem with high voltage power lines, stay away and report it to our office.
Until Next time, Be Safe.