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Crews face challenges restoring rural areas

February 13, 2017 | Jodi Baker | power outages, restoration, T&D
rural outages

OPPD crews are in full force during weather-related outages, but those in rural areas have a particularly tough job, which can increase the time it takes to restore power.

“The biggest challenge in the rural is simply logistics,” said Kurt Teten, area field supervisor at OPPD’s Syracuse Service Center.

“Each rural office covers such a great amount of territory. It may be 50 to 60 miles between calls,” he said. “Add in adverse weather conditions and this can mean a two-hour trip.”

As crews go further south within the district’s 13-county territory, they encounter more gravel roads and less developed infrastructure.

“It’s not uncommon to travel 15 to 20 miles by road just to move 2 to 3 miles geographically, due to road or bridge conditions. Our trucks weigh 30,000 to 40,000 pounds so we have to be extremely selective when we choose a route.”

Depending on the type of outage, restoration can take a few hours or days for a handful of customers.

“In some of the more sparsely populated areas, there may be miles of line feeding just a few customers,” Teten said.

“When we work storm restoration, we try to work calls in order of most customers affected to least customers affected.  Unfortunately, that leaves the areas with the lowest population in the dark for a longer period of time.

With the challenges within the rural areas also come some great perks, including closer and more personal relationships with customers.

“Our employees have a great connection with the customers and a strong commitment to supply reliable and affordable energy,” Teten said. “The customers appreciate the effort that they see from our crews. The crews appreciate the patience customers show when their power does go out.”

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About Jodi Baker

Jodi Baker contributes stories to The Wire in addition to serving as a media liaison for OPPD. She was a reporter, working for news stations from her hometown of Omaha to San Diego, prior to joining the utility in 2013. Jodi has a bachelor’s degree in Broadcasting from the University of Nebraska-Omaha, with a minor in Criminal Justice. She’s married with two older children and two younger dogs – Shi Tzu mixes. She loves watching her daughter’s track meets, going to concerts with her husband Dave, who used to co-host a local music video program, and traveling whenever possible.

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