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10 Years Later: 2007 Ice Storm Was Ultimate Learning Experience For PSO

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Photo of PSO crews working on damage to a major distribution line. [PSO photo] Photo of PSO crews working on damage to a major distribution line. [PSO photo]
PSO photo of a crew repairing a broken utility pole. PSO photo of a crew repairing a broken utility pole.
PSO photo of a crew working on damaged power poles. PSO photo of a crew working on damaged power poles.
PSO photo of utility repair crews staging at the fairgrounds. PSO photo of utility repair crews staging at the fairgrounds.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

No one who lived the 2007 ice storm in Oklahoma will forget it, including the hundreds of out-of-state crews who came to help get the power back on.

The ice started falling on the night of Saturday, December 8, 2007 and it kept falling until the following Monday, coating trees and power lines with a heavy layer of ice.

Trees and power poles came crashing down. Some power lines that managed to hold up the added weight of the ice were then knocked down by falling limbs or trees.

Fixing the damage and getting the power back on was a monumental task. City and county leaders decided to use the fairgrounds as a command center so PSO and other utilities used the parking lot as a staging area. 

12/6/2017 Related Story: 10 Years Later: Oklahomans Describe The 2007 Oklahoma Ice Storm

Stan Whiteford, Region Communications Manager for PSO, said the utility brought in 5,557 workers to deal with the catastrophe. That number included 3,180 line workers and support staff as well as 2,377 tree crew members and support staff. That remains the largest number of workers PSO has ever assembled to help in any storm recovery effort, he said.

Here are more numbers:

-Tulsa metro area customers without power at the storm’s peak: 226,000 (78% of all PSO Tulsa area customers at that time).

-Number of PSO customers statewide who were without power at peak: 260,000 (approximately half of all PSO customers at that time).

-Line and tree crews came from 15 states to help restore power.

More than 1,100 distribution and transmission poles had to be replaced as well as more than one million feet of power lines.

Whiteford said the major power restoration period for PSO customers in the Tulsa metro was December 11-18. Other PSO-served areas of the state were less hard hit and restoration for them was December 11-13.

Whiteford said the total cost to restore power exceeded $86 million.    

The ice storm did not change PSO's tree trimming efforts, because it had already made a major change that records show made a positive difference. A couple of years before the ice storm, Whiteford said the utility had adopted a four-year cycle for tree trimming, and it worked. 

"Our records show that in 2005, 20% of all outages were tree-related. Today, just 6% of outages are tree-related," he said. 

"The storm served as the ultimate learning experience and test of our organizational abilities," said Whiteford. "It caused us to re-examine every aspect of our storm plan and became the benchmark for all of our current preparation and planning activities.

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