Your electric co-op asks for patience—and encourages preparation.
Fire poses a risk to DMEA’s system, particularly during this extremely dry and hot period.
“We’re modifying our procedures to further reduce the risk that our equipment could cause a fire,” said Doug Cox, DMEA’s operations manager. “This may increase the time before power is restored after an outage in some cases, but it’s best for our community and the members we serve. Many people in other areas in Colorado are suffering tragic losses because of wildfires. All of us need to do whatever we can to prevent fires during this critical time.”
Thousands of member-owners of other electric cooperatives are being impacted by the wildfires raging in Colorado, New Mexico and other states. Co-op line crews are working hard to replace hundreds of power poles and meters and many miles of line that were burned. In one instance, fire burned to within 50 feet of one substation before it was contained, according toElectric Co-op Today.
DMEA’s “Fire Prevention Mode” places certain restrictions on how the automated equipment and line crews respond to inevitable power outages. This special mode of operations greatly reduces the risk of a fire being started by electrical equipment, but it does come at a cost: DMEA members who may have grown accustomed to a low frequencyof relatively short outages, may find that power outages that would have been a blink under normal conditions may last much longer than under normal conditions.
This is because of a greater need for human involvement to restore power. For example, under normal circumstances, a line-faulted condition can often be restored by an automatic line closing device which would simply reclose a circuit after a short time after the initial interruption. This is why many outages can be resolved in a matter of seconds. Under the “fire-prevention” procedure, that same interruption would require the deployment of an actual line crew to the site. The restoration of power, in this case, would include preparation, travel, investigation, and equipment repair and/or other problem-solving measures. Outage times, under this special fire prevention status, may be measured in hours.
In times like these, DMEA staff relies even more heavily upon member reports to assess the status of power lines and equipment. In many cases, a single phone call can save hours of searching. DMEA asks members who observe anything that seems out of the ordinary concerning power lines or power equipment to:
1) first and foremost–stay clear of the area in question;
2) please call DMEA’s main line at 1-877-687-3632 to report the situation.
“I encourage our members to call in when they see something they believe should be brought to our attention and to not assume that someone else has already called in the problem,” said Cox. “Members don’t need to worry about flooding DMEA’s phone lines. Our automated phone system is designed to handle hundreds of calls,” Cox explained. “With an engaged and informed membership and community helping us, DMEA can still maintain a relatively high level of service even while under the fire prevention status.”
DMEA will return to normal operating procedures as soon as public agencies indicate that the risk of fire has substantially abated.
“Although DMEA has excellent system reliability, members should always be prepared for infrequent, but inevitable power outages caused by weather, wild life, cars hitting poles, and other causes,” said Cox. “We ask for our members’ patience and assistance as we reduce fire risk and hopefully get through this period of extraordinary fire hazards unscathed.”
“Be Prepared!” DMEA reminds members
Natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and ice storms have knocked out power in certain areas across the U.S. for extended periods, sometimes as long as several days. The fires devastating some communities in Colorado are a reminder that we should be prepared for a natural or other disaster that causes an extended power outage.
These outages can be especially dangerous for members who rely on electricity to power needed
medical equipment.DMEA advises all such members to make an emergency contingency plan to be prepared for a lengthy outage. Regardless of your health, all members should be prepared with an emergency preparedness kit. For more information on assembling an emergency kit, please go to the Red Cross’ website, www.redcross.org .