by General Manager Steve Stroshane
Believe it or not, we're still working to repair and clean up from the July storm that caused widespread damage and power outages across Polk County. I predict that storm recovery will take a year or more for the co-op and many local property owners. The event was truly devastating. Below are facts and figures that highlight the co-op's response:
• Co-op members out of power Friday night, July 19: 9,000
• Co-op members restored within 12 hours by Saturday morning: 5,000
• Co-op members restored within 36 hours by Sunday morning: 6,500
• Co-op members restored by end of the week, Saturday, July 27: All
• Number of substations down and restored: 6
• Number of broken poles replaced: 325
• Number of damaged transformers repaired or replaced: 114
• Miles of right-of-way that need(ed) tree clearing: 348
Total cost of storm restoration: $1.6 million (as of October 1)
As many of you know firsthand, rebuilding after storm damage is expensive. We had to purchase a lot of new material and co-op crews worked many hours of overtime to restore your power in a timely manner. State and federal officials approved disaster declarations, which means the co-op can request financial assistance from FEMA. We will also submit qualifying expenses to our insurance provider. We are thankful for any reimbursement, as we do not carry reserves or budget for storm recovery.
While the initial restoration is complete, much work remains to fix areas with temporary repairs, clean up damaged material and repair damaged equipment. One of the largest jobs is re-clearing downed trees from the rights-of-way and removing danger trees that were damaged, but have yet to fall into the lines. A clear right-of-way improves safety, reduces power outages and blinks, and gives linemen access to power lines for maintenance and repairs. We estimate an additional $200,000 to $400,000 of tree clearing work remains.
Since 2004, part of the annual construction program has included storm hardening our system. This means converting overhead lines to underground. We complete 10 to 20 miles each year and plan to increase that amount in future years.
Grateful for your support
It has been a difficult year for the central part of our service territory, as weakened trees from the July 19 storm continue to cause outages. We thank our members and community for your patience and support during storm restorations, and as we work together to rebuild. Our number one goal is always safe, reliable power. We hope Mother Nature is mild this winter, but know that we are here for you as your source for reliable power and information in all types of weather.
In a post-storm survey, members requested more communication. If you would like to receive outage texts, see our online outage center for enrollment. We're happy to offer this for you!