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Power Outage Prevention in the Copper Basin

CVEA has experienced several lengthy outages in the Copper Basin District throughout the last six weeks; all due to extreme weather conditions that include wet, heavy snow load and ice load on CVEA power lines and trees surrounding the lines. These conditions cause trees, most of which are outside of CVEA's right-of-way (ROW), to get weighted down, bend, and come into contact with the power lines; or they come down with force and even break, causing damage to power lines and other equipment such as poles and cross arms. In addition, heavy snow and ice can cause damage directly to power lines causing them to sag or break, which in turn causes damage to other equipment. Snow slap is another common cause of outages that occurs when snow or ice that was weighing the lines down, release from the lines, causing the lines to come into contact with each other or something else.

Many people are asking what the Co-op does to prevent outages due to these situations, or asking why other things are not done. Unfortunately, CVEA cannot just go out and cut trees down as many, most in these recent cases, are outside of CVEA's ROW. There are laws that prohibit utilities from cutting trees down that are outside the ROW unless they are proven to be a 'danger' tree. The other problem is that trees stand tall, without a problem in sight......until suddenly they don't anymore. Much like a car, you don't know a problem exists until it presents itself. There are hundreds of thousands of trees along CVEA power lines, and eyes are not laid on every tree every day, making it impossible to know of every tree that could come into contact with the line.

CVEA works very hard to prevent these things from happening. Attached is an article from page 28-29 of your January issue of Ruralite Magazine that outlines what the Co-op is doing with ROW maintenance, and explains why CVEA does not do some things that might seem intuitive. You are encouraged to check it out.

In addition to the information in the article, CVEA would like to provide you with specific information regarding additional preventative maintenance in the area from roughly Pump Station 12 to Mile 100 on the Richardson Hwy, including Kenny Lake, who have been hit the hardest recently.

Last week the Copper Basin line crew spent time in this area working to clear lines that were noticeably heavy with ice load. Unfortunately, this area has not experienced the rain or warming that has helped to clear the lines in other areas, so the attempts to knock the ice off was not as effective as hoped. Additionally, crews spent Monday, January 15, in the area clearing snow from the prior heavy snowfall off lines and trees. This was very effective and they were able to make significant progress. They were to continue this project on Tuesday (today), but instead have shifted to outage restoration. This effort will be continued once power has been restored to all areas.

In 2017, crews cleared nearly fifteen miles of ROW in this section of line, and further preventative maintenance on this specific section is planned for 2018. A significant budget was approved to make upgrades to this section. According to CVEA COO, Travis Million, "this section of line, expanding roughly thirty miles, has some large spans between poles, which opens us up to problems when conditions like we've been experiencing exist. The plan in 2018 is to add additional poles, shorten the spans, and give additional support to the power line. This won't eliminate trees getting into the line, but it should reduce or eliminate damage caused by heavy snow and ice loading on the lines, snow slap, and damage to other equipment."

With the uncharacteristic abundance of wet, heavy snow that has fallen, and may continue to fall this winter in the Copper Basin, members in this area, and all members, are encouraged to be prepared for additional outages.

If you have questions regarding this press release, or any other CVEA issue, please contact Sharon Scheidt, CVEA Director of Communications, at 822-5506, 835-7005, or email scheidt@cvea.org.

Ruralite Article - Reliable Power and the Right of Way