For decades, electric utilities have been tracking reliability statistics based on national standards. This allows electric utilities to compare the reliability of their electric service with others. Two basic areas of reliability are tracked: outage frequency and how long it takes to restore the power after an outage. In short, we talk about outage frequency and duration to measure reliability. I am happy to report that Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative’s electric system reliability exceeds many national benchmarks. Several factors play into electric system reliability, including maintenance practices, vegetation management in the power line rights-of-way, weather, natural disasters, wholesale power supply and crew response times. CCEC has no control over the weather or reliability of our wholesale power supply. But we actively control most factors that influence our power system reliability. Our operations, maintenance and engineering crews all work hard to keep the lights on.
As society has become more dependent on electric energy, reliability has become more important. When the power is out, factories can’t produce, schools can’t teach and hospitals can’t heal. Life nearly grinds to a halt. For short power outages, we simply deal with the inconvenience. However, the longer a power outage lasts, the more difficult and even dire the consequences become. Power system resilience has gained importance in our electricity-dependent world.
In the case of the electric system, resilience is the ability to restore power following an unfortunate event. In the past three years, western Oregon experienced devastating snowstorms, ice storms and wildfires. The power was out in affected areas not for hours or days, but for weeks. As we learn from the unfortunate experiences of our neighboring Oregon electric cooperatives, CCEC is making changes and always thinking about how we can improve our electric system resilience.
Some resilience capability is built into our organization. Usually, a major weather event or natural disaster doesn’t affect our entire service territory from north to south. This allows line crews in unaffected areas to assist restoration in affected areas. Most factors that lead to a resilient power system must be actively managed. For example, we use brush mowing in our power line rights-of-way to minimize fuel loading and therefore minimize damage a wildfire can cause to power lines. We manage inventory supplies and maintain relationships with material suppliers to ensure we have critical materials on hand to rebuild. We have mutual aid agreements in place with most electric utilities in Oregon so we can call on them to help rebuild following a major event.
We aim to provide both reliable and resilient electric service. When the lights do go out, we are prepared to get them back on quickly, serving you the energy that powers your life.
Brent Bischoff General Manager and CEO