2014-01-15 / Letters to the Editor

Patience, Support Appreciated

Dear Editor,

On Sunday, January 5, Morgan, Monroe, and Owen counties were hit with a heavy, wet snow storm dumping as much as 10-12” of snow in the area. Following the snow, we experienced strong winds and record cold temperatures of -12 degrees. During the bad weather on Sunday and the early morning hours of Monday, the South Central Indiana REMC lost electric service to almost half of its 33,000 members. We would like to thank our members for their patience during this very trying time for all of us.

Over the course of the next five days stretching into Friday, the REMC crews, along with crews from other Indiana cooperatives and Pike contract crews, fought snow drifts, icy roads, rugged terrain, poor road conditions, and the very frigid temperatures to restore electric service to our members. The battle was tough. Our crews worked long shifts around the clock each day and dealt with mental and physical exhaustion, jelled diesel fuel, frozen gas lines, frozen air-brakes, and thick, cold hydraulic fluid. In addition to the crews you saw out on our system, we had employees supporting our 24-hour dispatch center working long shifts also. We had all of our supervisors either in the office for support or out in the field to help show visiting crews where to go to restore service.

The South Central Indiana REMC was prepared for the storm. Prior to the storm we:

•Emailed members with some tips on how to prepare for the storm;

•Held discussions with our employees to be prepared to report to work on Sunday;

•Allowed our line personnel to take home vehicles on Friday so they would be able to get into the office on Sunday when the weather hit;

•Contacted our contractor, Pike, to make sure their crews would be available to assist us;

•Ordered additional material prior to the storm; and

•Fueled vehicles, stocked trucks with material, and installed tire chains.

The heavy snow stuck to the power line equipment and trees, adding enough weight to break lines, poles, trees, and equipment. All of the SCI REMC employees worked as a team to get the job done. We worked methodically, but most importantly, we worked safely to restore service to our members. The task was difficult, but we did the very best we could with the conditions we were dealt. Think about working outside for an hour when it is -12 degrees with a windchill of -30 or -40 degrees. Your productivity declines. Now, think about working in that temperature for 12-16 hours straight day after day, night after night. Be thankful you don’t have to work in these conditions, but thank God there are men and women that choose to be linemen, tree trimmers, and utility supervisors who work to turn your electricity back on no matter what the weather or circumstances happen to be.

This is one of the worst storms we have experienced in my 38 years with the REMC, but thanks to the technology we have in place and the dedication of our workforce, we did an outstanding job restoring electric service considering the conditions we were battling. I am proud of our employees and humbled by the support we received from other cooperatives around the state.

Again, I want thank our members for their patience during these difficult times and the extended outage periods. I thank those who took time to send us an email, a note, or made a phone call showing appreciation for the job we were doing. We shared all these with our employees. This is what kept us going.

Greg McKelfresh

President and CEO,

South Central Indiana REMC

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