Keeping the Lights on Despite Current Challenges:
Your Role for Reliable Power
By: Ken Schlimgen, General Manager
Even though I work at an electric cooperative, like most people, I don’t think much about the electricity I use. I expect the lights to come on every time I flip a switch and my appliances to work all day long.
Many of us are spending more time at home and as a result are using more electricity. We all have the expectation of an endless supply of electricity without any interruption. This expectation is a direct result of our experience. After all, the cooperative’s system of generation, transmission and distribution equipment has provided reliable delivery of electricity for almost 99% of the day and night.
This is a pretty amazing accomplishment given we have thousands of miles of power lines, equipment and parts by the millions, and multiple generators working in unison so we can turn on one light bulb or operate a large manufacturing facility. All it takes is one failure in the system, and we lose our electric power supply.
In early June a strong thunderstorm with high winds damaged over 100 cooperative poles mostly in the Mt. Vernon area. It took two long days and the assistance of an additional 30 linemen with heavy equipment to rebuild almost 6 miles of powerlines. We still have permanent repairs to complete over the coming months. Central Electric’s cost of this storm event is estimated to exceed $250,000.
I want to thank our members in the Mt. Vernon area for their patience and support while crews restored power. I also want to thank the linemen that came to our aid and especially our employees. They worked long hours to get power restored quickly without a single accident. It was truly a team effort by everyone at the cooperative.
It would be difficult to stop Mother Nature from causing outages, but we can prevent outages caused by equipment contacting power lines.
It would be difficult to stop Mother Nature from causing outages, but we can prevent outages caused by equipment contacting power lines. So far this year, there have been four occasions where someone dug into buried power lines, two excavators and one sprayer have contacted overhead power lines, and 10 occasions where farm equipment has damaged or broken poles. We can and should do better.
Each of these events cost money to the responsible party and causes the loss of electric power to many people. Although no one has been hurt, the odds tell us it is only a matter of time before someone is hurt or killed. As you work or play outdoors, be aware of where electrical equipment is located. Educate yourself, your family and others on the steps to take when equipment contacts a power line. You could save your life or the life of someone you love. You can visit www.poweringyoursafety.com to learn more.
The lobby to the cooperative headquarters is not open to the public yet. In an effort to isolate our workforce from the potential exposure of COVID19, I am being very cautious about opening the doors. Our employees have a critical mission of being able to support the reliable delivery of electricity at all hours of the day. Doing what I can to keep our employees healthy is extremely important. Please be patient and understanding while we make a slow transition to normal operations.
Most of you received a credit on your most recent electric statement. The credit is a reflection of your share, as a cooperative member/owner, of Central Electric’s annual capital credit retirement. We normally issue the credit in December, but we felt an early retirement would help our members during these trying times.
We recognize that the past few months have been challenging, but please know that we are here to act as your trusted energy advisor. If you have questions about your account or are looking for ways to more efficiently use electric energy, please give us a call. Central Electric is your electric cooperative and we are here to serve you.
Until next month, take care and be safe!