Damaging weather is the nemesis of all who provide electricity to homes and businesses. Thunderstorms and tornadoes may be the first thing that come to mind, but it is ice buildup that causes the biggest challenge, as we all saw in early February.
For a large swath of Texas—from the Austin area and up through East Texas—repeated rounds of icy freezing rain and days of below-freezing temperatures coated trees and power lines with heavy ice. The result was thousands of outages and a lot of property damage.
It was the southern part of the Trinity Valley Electric Cooperative service territory that took the brunt of the storm, and in the context of Henderson and Anderson counties, this is the worst ice storm we’ve had in 40 years.
With our emergency action plan in place, the preparations for a long-term restoration process were already in motion as the freezing rain began to fall. As it became clear that we would have significant accumulation, the call went out for additional resources and as rain and limbs continued to fall, our team was in place keeping as much power flowing to members as possible.
It takes an enormous amount of coordination behind the scenes to plan and manage the response to an event like this, and I am extremely proud of everyone that took part in the process.
From our member services group taking shifts to answer member calls 24-hours-a-day throughout the event to the engineers and system operators who carefully managed the ongoing power restoration, it was truly a team effort.
And in the field, more than 300 lineworkers and tree trimmers joined our linemen in a nonstop effort to put our system back together.
As always, there will be lessons learned and improvements to be made. This storm showed how our technological enhancements over the last few years, including a complete system audit, is paying dividends by speeding up our restoration work. Now we are looking at cutting-edge tools that monitor tree growth to help us optimize our right-of-way clearing operations.
One of the things I am most proud of is that the restoration work was handled with no major safety incidents or injuries. That is a testament to the quality of our people and the culture of safe work practices that has been built here over time.
I would like to express my gratitude to you, our members, for your patience and encouraging words through the lengthy restoration process. That meant a lot to our employees while they were battling through the conditions and fatigue with trees continuing to fall.
We are a co-op. Built by members to serve a need in our community. As we mark 85 years since our founding, storms like these are a reminder that the electric service we provide is more than a product. The lines we maintain connect us and make modern life possible in so many ways, and no storm will keep us from doing everything we can to serve you well.