Electric Companies Prepping For Possible Ice

Friday, December 12th 2008, 6:12 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, News On 6

TULSA, OK -- With ice looming in the weekend forecast, many electrical companies are hunkering down with emergency meetings.

The goal is to improve on the lessons learned from last year's ice storm.

Two out of every three Northeast Oklahoma Electrical customers lost power during last year's storm. That's 25,000 people and one thing they're changing is how they tackle the biggest problem repair crews say they faced last year.

Before the weather outside gets too frightful, Northeast Electric workers are drilling new life into a construction site in Vinita. They say there are changing perceptions about nature versus power.

And that's because of scenes like the ones from last year's ice storms.

"The wind and the brush. There was a lot of brush," said Electric Worker Shaun Heiller.

Ken Hagar says people used to tell him, "Grandpa planted the tree, leave the tree alone," but attitudes about grandpa's trees have changed.

"When it comes to yard trees and stuff, people now are more lenient. They'll cut the trees down, they'd rather have power than have the trees," said Co-Op Laborer Ken Hagar.

Company managers say they can review last year's data to determine high risk areas and get out the door on a moment's notice.

"We make sure all the vehicles are serviced, all the equipment is working and everything's checked out so they can be ready to go," said General Manager Robert Echenrode.

And Echenrode says early planning helps make sure everyone's on the same page, from the inventory of equipment down to the repair crews.

"It's not something we can speed up overnight, but we can certainly reduce the amount of ramp up time and logistics," said Echenrode.

So when it comes to the next ice storm, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of power.

The News On 6 also spoke to representatives from Verdigris Valley Co-Op. They say they had a meeting with a dozen managers to work out contingency plans and they say they'll have 90 employees on-call, ready-to-go in case a disaster strikes.

But these companies say any way you slice it, an ice storm will mean damaged facilities and that could take a few days to repair.