Outage restoration from a major storm is a complex process. Crews are often assigned to areas with the greatest volume of outages first – however there are numerous factors that contribute to the decisions behind the order of locations restored. These factors can also fluctuate daily based on weather that might cause additional outages. Each outage location is a case-by-case scenario for restoration. It could be as simple as removing a tree and changing a fuse, or far more complex like splicing power lines or an entire pole replacement (a 3 to 4 hour process that involves 4 linemen and special equipment). It also takes time to patrol lines to find the specific reason for the outage, whether it’s a tree on the line or damaged equipment. Since our 4,000 miles of power lines span through forested territory, some outage locations cannot be reached by bucket trucks. We are equipped with numerous tracked vehicles, snowmobiles, and our linemen often snowshoe to patrol lines in wooded rights-of-ways.
Cloverland has 36 linemen who always work in at least 2-man teams for safety reasons. We are fortunate to have mutual aid assistance to greatly expand our efforts. Mutual aid teams must accompany Cloverland crews since our linemen know the territory and lines best, so our crews are divided accordingly to cover as much ground as possible. For safety, all crews are required to take an 8-hour rest after 16 hours of work. We generally time safety rest at night so crews can make better progress with restoration efforts during daylight hours. However, some crews worked through the night Sunday and Monday based on the outage circumstances that began Sunday evening. In addition, there is an entire team of employees behind the scenes dedicated to an all co-op effort to restore our members as safely and quickly as possible.
Here’s the perspective of Cloverland’s Director of Safety, Jim Wilson – who was a lineman for 18 years prior to moving into management: “The snow and ice build-up from this storm have made the restoration efforts much more difficult than most other storms. The trees continue to hang over the lines in a draped condition that makes it very hard to remove. The temperatures have not been favorable either for the snow to fall off and the trees and lines to return to their normal shape and conditions. Our crews are working through the hazards of not only driving through roads covered with trees, but the rights-of-ways are full of drooping trees that makes it hard to see the lines and make repairs. All lines must be thoroughly examined to make sure that it is safe for the crew to re-energize. Safety for the crew and the public is a top priority.”
We hope this information helps provide more insight on the restoration process. We know our members are frustrated with this extended multi-day outage. We kindly ask for your continued patience and understanding as we all strive to do our very best in every aspect of the co-op.