Power Companies Ready For Ice Damage

Friday, December 7th 2007, 4:56 pm
By: News On 6

There were a number of traffic accidents Friday because of wet streets. Icy conditions could make matters worse. And, significant icing could cause problems with electrical service. The News On 6’s Emory Bryan reports several smaller power companies outside of Tulsa and PSO are preparing for the ice.

They all say they have plenty of the supplies they need: poles and wire. All the utilities also have their crews on standby to respond quickly if there are any problems. Last January, the cold and rain came together to create the worst case scenario for the electric power grid.

Wires and poles were ice cold when the freezing rain fell, so it coated everything with at least an inch of ice. That pulled down the lines and the falling lines snapped the poles. For people who lose their power in extreme cold, and for the workers who have to make repairs, it's as bad as it gets.

"If we're looking at significant accumulations of ice that's the main thing that causes us problems, not just from the physical weight of the ice on the lines, but the weight of ice on trees and the difficulty of getting to the location if it's icy or hazardous conditions," said Stan Whiteford with PSO.

PSO spent $30 million repairing ice storm damage last winter, most of it in the McAlester area, where 600 poles were snapped, and out of state crews were called in to help. The effort to put workers on standby and make contact with outside help is the main way power companies prepare.

"So depending on what area of our service area is hit the hardest and if some other areas are not impacted, like southeast Oklahoma, that's not in the forecast, so maybe those crews would be available to come up and help out,” said PSO’s Stan Whiteford.

Ice is much more damaging to power lines than snow which just blows off and even wind, which tends to cause more isolated damage.

And, besides doing routine maintenance and keeping poles in good shape, there's practically nothing the power company can do to prevent the damage.

Watch the video: Power Companies Ready To Deal With Ice