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Vinita Electric Company Learned Much From 2007 Ice Storm

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In 2007, Hefner said many customers were hit hard and lost power - in some cases for three weeks. In 2007, Hefner said many customers were hit hard and lost power - in some cases for three weeks.
Now, dispatchers can look at one big screen and see the outages and crews thanks to a digital meter system that automatically reports outages. Now, dispatchers can look at one big screen and see the outages and crews thanks to a digital meter system that automatically reports outages.
Cindy Hefner with Northeast Electric Co-operative. Cindy Hefner with Northeast Electric Co-operative.
VINITA, Oklahoma -

Electric utilities are getting ready for what could be a rough couple of days.

One of them is the Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative in Vinita, which says with each storm they learn something new.

The Northeast Oklahoma Electric co-op dispatch is something they didn't have back in 2007. But now, with extra dispatchers and a wall of monitors, they can better respond to outages.

Right now the monitors show no outages, but with the continued threat of a severe ice storm, that probably won't be the case for long.

Electric crews from the Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative are stationed all around Craig, Delaware, Mayes and Ottawa counties - about 38,000 customers risk losing power if the ice storm is as bad as anticipated.

"Unfortunately, we can't read Mother Nature’s mind, so we're not quite sure what the weather will be for this area. We just have to be as prepared as we can," said Cindy Hefner with Northeast Electric Co-operative.

In 2007, Hefner said many customers were hit hard and lost power - in some cases for three weeks.

“Every storm is different and you can always learn from each storm," she said.

Over the last 10 years, the coop upgraded the monitoring system. Now, dispatchers can look at one big screen and see the outages and crews thanks to a digital meter system that automatically reports outages.

They've also bought new equipment that allows them to get into any brush-filled areas crews come across.

And all year, crews perform maintenance and upgrade work.

Hefner said, "We've installed taller poles, bigger poles around in diameter and also shorten the span of wire between the poles and, of course, that gives strength to the system and allows fewer outages."

Hefner said the upgrades are able to withstand a bit more, but the amount of ice is the main factor.

"If you get three inches of ice, you know, the system is coming down, it just can't stand up to certain conditions," she said.

Electric crews across the state, not just the rural ones, already have people on standby and plan to bring in additional crews.

But, the people here say if they have to they are ready to stay through it all.

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