Hurricane season is impacting the supply of utility poles for Oklahoma's rural electric cooperatives

Tuesday, October 25th 2005, 10:30 am
By: News On 6

It started with Hurricane Katrina and now with Hurricane Wilma crews are working to restore power.

Emergency managers in Florida estimate between 2 and 3-million people are still without electricity. To get the region back on its feet as quickly as possible, suppliers for power companies have been diverting materials to the hurricane zone. That's left some Oklahoma power providers dealing with a supply shortage.

News on 6 anchor Terry Hood says right now power poles are at a premium. Many were damaged in Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and now Wilma, so entire deliveries of poles are being sent to the Gulf Coast, to get the power there up and running.

The Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative based out of Vinita goes through 200 poles every couple of weeks. Now, they're keeping a tight grip on the poles they have left.

Before the hurricanes, NOEC would have had to wait 3 days for a new shipment. That wait time was extended to 3 months after Katrina, and now they don't know when their next "regular" shipment might come in.

They've had to suspend all routine pole maintenance. Now they're hanging on to one load of poles in each of their three warehouses, just in case. NOEC’s fleet and materials manager Robin Colvin: "As long as we can hold that much and continue business as usual, when we know we can cover any emergencies we might have."

Colvin says NOEC is used to chipping in, they’ve sent more than a dozen workers to the hurricane zone to help with recovery efforts.