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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

About Last Night...

On the evening of January 29 we, again, had an April or May type storm in the dead of winter. This is the second one this winter and it is really beginning to unnerve us. This one swept through the southeast US last night like the arc of a baseball bat chasing a hanging curve ball. It hit Glasgow about 7:40 and caused extensive damage from one end of our system to the other. Several poles were broken, several earth anchors gave way which allowed guy wires to drop into energized conductors.

At the peak of our problems we had about 500 homes and businesses without electric power. It could have been much worse. We still have major portions of our transmission network out of service as repairs are made to damaged facilities from the November 5 storm. If we had suffered a broken pole on one of our remaining transmission line segments, most of Glasgow would have been without power for many hours. However, we were very lucky (so far) and that did not happen, even though we did lose downguys on a critical transmission pole near Dana Corporation that we are crafting a plan to repair as this is written. Some of our customers remained without power for about 8 hours as we used our forces and folks from our contractor, Bowlin Energy, to replace broken poles.

As usual, one of our chief problems was, again, the extensive fencing, landscaping, and outbuildings that folks have placed in their backyards. I have said this before on this very blog, but I will say it again. When utilities are placed in back yards there is only one way for the residents to increase their chances for reliable electric power and broadband services; they must refrain from constructing barriers that make it impossible for us to get access to those facilities! It would help the community immensely if everyone would take a look at their yard and notice where the poles and conductors are that serve their home and make plans for allowing access to those facilities by large trucks. One thing is certain. Sooner or later we are going to be forced to visit every pole in every yard. If you cannot see a way for us to get to that pole, well, we probably can't get to it and that does not bode well for your whole neighborhood!

As I said, it could have been a lot worse. This morning we have gotten calls from several of our neighboring utilities in Bowling Green and elsewhere. They still have folks without power and are asking their neighbors to send help. In our case, except for several homes which were damaged to the point that they need a carpenter or electrician before electric power can be restored, we had everyone back in service by 4 a.m. Hopefully, we can get some relief from this intemperate weather over the next couple of weeks so we can affect much needed repairs to our system. We will be working on that. You can be working on making your backyard ready for us to get in!