Serving consumer-members through rain, ice and snow
IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER, it is dark, cold and sometimes rainy, with weather often unpredictable. In the utility business, we are glued to weather apps on our phones, watching the nightly news for weather updates, religiously checking in on where Jim Cantore is going to be over the next week, and always thinking about the storms that have impacted reliability over the years.
How many of you remember the blizzard of 1978? I was in elementary school and remember how great the snow was for sledding. My dad did not feel the same way heading to work.
What about the snowstorm in 1994? I was a young engineer for Nolin Rural Electric and learned the impact of a foot or more of snow. I will never forget doing some outage investigations around Colesburg to see the extent of the damage from the storm.
I stopped the truck to look at some of the lines that were on the ground and an older woman came out of her house to see how much longer the outage might last. I told her we had crews in the area, and it should be sometime that evening. With a grunt, she said, “Good.” Followed by, “You do know that UK plays basketball tonight.”
How about the ice storms of 2003 or 2009? Both events crippled the state of Kentucky. The most damaging event for an electric system is a significant amount of ice that builds up on the power lines. The weight becomes so heavy that things begin to break. Couple broken poles with hazardous driving and even dicey walking conditions, and you can begin to understand the commitment our lineworkers have to restore your power.
There can even be tornadoes and flooding events this time of year. You need only to look back to December 2021 when parts of our state were forever changed by a deadly tornado outbreak.
Preparation is key
Kentucky is blessed with many wonderful things, including the four seasons, the beautiful terrain and the best people in the world. But the natural disasters can be challenging. Your cooperative spends a lot of time, money and resources preparing for these events. The reason trees are cleared along rights-of-way is to prevent broken trees from causing outages and to make restoration time quicker.
Advanced metering, sophisticated control systems and outage management software alert utility personnel instantly about the extent of the outages. This enables materials and crews to be dispatched effectively.
There is a great deal of talk about infrastructure in Washington, D.C., and Frankfort. Our commitment to maintaining reliable and resilient electric systems is a priority that we will not compromise. We are talking about how to make a responsible energy transition in the future without sacrificing the incredible system that we have built.