I recently discovered I own a dishonest rain gauge. Well, maybe the gauge was not to blame, but it was reporting inaccurate information. Even though it was located several feet from my house, the rain gauge was apparently close enough to catch water splashing off the roof during heavy downpours.
This problem came to light when comparing rain totals with friends and neighbors. In most cases our house had more rain than everyone else, sometimes a lot more than even my next door neighbor. After a while, I became suspicious and did a little investigating. Hence, the discovery of extra water in the rain gauge from the roof. I was starting to think someone was sneaking over and pouring water into it.
We’ve all emptied our rain gauges a lot during this wet and stormy summer. Even though we were very thankful for the rain, the numerous thunderstorms that were associated with it kept your cooperative personnel extremely busy restoring power.
Historically, summer months are challenging for Randolph EMC’s reliability and keeping your lights on. Summer thunderstorms are so common to our area and usually spring up suddenly. In a matter of minutes, damage can occur that takes many hours to repair. The summer of 2017 was a relatively mild year for storm activity, so when comparing year over year numbers, we see an increase in nearly all reliability statistics. But the data does demonstrate that storms have dramatically impacted our system so far in 2018.
For the summer months of 2017, a total of 402 power outages occurred on the Randolph EMC system. This past summer, the number of outages increased to 574, which was 42 percent higher than the previous year.
Also for the summer of 2017, 14,874 members, or 46 percent of the total accounts Randolph EMC serves, experienced an outage. In the summer of 2018, a total of 21,284 members, representing 66 percent of the membership, experienced an outage. This was an increase of more than 43 percent from 2017.
Due to the intensity and extensive damage caused by these storms—including many broken poles—the time it took to restore power increased substantially. The total outage time for the summer of 2017 was 1,437,696 minutes. For the summer of 2018, the total outage time was 3,311,565 minutes, or 130 percent higher than the previous year.
The primary cause of these outages were related to falling trees. Randolph EMC has an aggressive right-of-way maintenance program that is the critical factor to minimize tree-related outages as much as possible. With millions of trees along our 3,600-plus miles of overhead power lines, there is a lot of exposure to tree-related damage.
Whenever I report about storms, I can’t pass up the opportunity to stress the importance of safety. Never, never, never assume that a downed power line is de-energized. If you encounter a downed line or a tree on a power line, stay back and keep others away. Do not touch anything that is in contact with, or in the vicinity of a downed power line.
This applies to service lines, as well. Even if they are insulated, they should be considered dangerous and treated the same as a high voltage line. A power line is never dead until it’s grounded. Stay Safe!
I want to thank our members for their patience and assistance during this very busy storm season. I also want to thank all our employee team for their commitment to safety and efficiency while restoring power following these storms. You have an extremely dedicated and capable team of employees. They prove this time after time and I sincerely appreciate their efforts. We appreciate the opportunity to serve you, in stormy and sunny weather.
Dale F. Lambert Chief Executive Officer
As we move from hurricane season into winter storm season, opt in now to our SPOTT Alerts outage texting program to stay connected whenever power outages occur! The activation process is simple:
- Make sure your cell phone number is listed on your REMC account*
- Text the code TEXTREMC to 1-877-736-2633
- Verify your location address
- Receive a confirmation message that you are enrolled, along with a list of keywords to text to interact with the system
After you’ve received confirmation, you’ll be able to report power outages, request status updates and receive notifications about outages through text messaging!
Learn more about our SPOTT Alerts outage texting program.