A Storm for the Decades
Dear Co-op Community Members:
The snowstorm of February 2019 is one for the record books. In the past several decades, never have we seen so much damage to our service territory and the widespread outages that affected so many of our members for up to two weeks.
It was also a historic event due to the human capital we recruited to get the job done. You may have heard this already, but I think it bears repeating: A total of 111 linemen—95 more than our usual crew of 16—worked on behalf of Lane Electric to restore your power as quickly and safely as possible. We are grateful for our rural electric cooperative family and other generous utilities throughout the state and across state lines who provided support.
I also applaud our entire team’s commitment and endurance. What you didn’t see in the field were the 28 Lane Electric staff members working behind the scenes to coordinate logistics with the Bonneville Power Administration, Oregon Department of Transportation, Lane County and partnering utilities; manage an influx of materials and vehicles; organize meals, laundry and
housing for the crews; and distill information for member communications. From the accounting department to the lineworkers, it was an all-hands-on-deck operation.
While crews from other utilities have been sent home, Lane Electric crews continue restoration work in the aftermath of the storm. This includes addressing hazard trees and branches that were partially damaged in the storm and could now fall into power lines during inclement weather. They also will be retrieving downed wires and broken equipment that was covered by snow or fallen trees. The clean-up phase will last for several months. We may need to again bring in extra crews to get it all accomplished.
We heard many questions and concerns expressed during the outage: Why can’t you get more crews? Why can’t we get more specific information about restoration times? Why don’t you bury the lines so this doesn’t happen again?
I encourage you to read pages 4-5 and 8 for answers to these questions and to also attend our district meetings in May to hear more. See page 25 for district meeting dates and locations.
Finally, I would like to thank you, our members, for your patience and endurance during what we know was a difficult two weeks. As the dust settles, we all—as a utility and as individuals—are thinking about how to prepare for future major events. We hope you are doing the same. Whether it’s another winter storm or an earthquake, I truly believe it is not a question of if but when. At our district meetings and in future issues of Ruralite, we will share information about disaster preparedness and encourage you to take note.
Acting General Manager