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Magic Valley EC News

How Your Co-op Manages Threats to the Electric Grid

MVEC works hard to keep the lights on

While the threat of cybersecurity attacks on the electric grid gets a lot of attention these days, physical damage from storms or critters is still much more likely to disrupt power.

In fact, there are many physical threats to our power delivery system that Magic Valley Electric Cooperative works hard to deflect on a daily basis. From weather events (such as hurricane, high winds and flooding) to criminal activity (including copper theft and transformers taking gunfire), it takes a proactive approach to consistently deliver reliable service to our members. Even something as small as a squirrel can damage our system’s infrastructure and cause power outages.

If the lights do go out, we are ready to restore power as quickly and as safely as possible. Here are three key ways Magic Valley works to keep your power as reliable as feasible: 

1. Being part of the community. Electric co-ops know our communities. We live and work in the neighborhoods and towns we serve, and you know many of your co-op’s board members and employees.

We know that emergencies can happen at any time, and relationships are important in urgently responding to unplanned events or in preparing for more predictable events, including hurricanes or summer flooding. In the rare event of a major outage, our network of sister co-ops is ready to pitch in quickly and help us get power restored. That’s because we’re part of one large cooperative community, and Cooperation Among Cooperatives is a guiding principle for co-ops everywhere.

2. Planning, preparing and practicing. We test disaster and business continuity plans regularly and take pride in being prepared at all times. Plans not only focus on how to prevent outages but also how to respond and recover in the event of an incident. Maintenance work such as vegetation management and pole inspections may seem routine but is strategically performed to reduce power disruptions proactively. Trees that are too close to power lines can cause major damage and outages during a storm.

3. Coordinating with stakeholders. Magic Valley places a lot of importance on collaboration with fellow cooperatives, industry partners and government agencies. We work closely with the rest of the electric utility industry, our regional grid operator, the departments of Homeland Security and Energy, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on matters of critical infrastructure protection, which include sharing information about potential threats and working together to avoid disruptions.

You can help us in this endeavor to keep electricity flowing by:

  • Reporting suspicious activity. Be mindful of unusual situations and immediately report them to Magic Valley or local authorities. For example, if you see noncooperative personnel near a substation, please report it. If you see something that doesn’t seem right, say something so that it can be investigated.
  • Checking for damage. If you see tree branches or other vegetation growing too closely to power lines or utility poles, please contact us so we can keep the lines clear to provide the most reliable service.

Although the electric grid is incredibly resilient and can withstand many physical impacts, it’s also a dynamic infrastructure that requires constant attention. To power your lives, Magic Valley is vigilant in ensuring grid protection from physical and cyber threats.