KEM battles rime ice; Alliance members assist in restoration efforts
The first week in February, rime ice caused extensive power outages across the KEM Electric Cooperative service area. Line crews worked as safely and efficiently as possible to restore service, with assistance from Innovative Energy Alliance Cooperative partners Mor-Gran-Sou and Roughrider Electric Cooperatives, and 3C Construction. Alliance staff and local contractor Vetsch Independent Power also assisted.
Mor-Gran-Sou also battled pockets of rime ice and power outages across its service area.
Foggy conditions started Sunday, Jan. 31, and continued through Wednesday, Feb. 3, before the weather pattern shifted to clear and frigid.
Rime ice occurs when mild temperatures, high humidity and freezing fog form a heavy layer of ice on power lines and poles.
Power blinks can occur when frost falls from the line. Outages can occur when the weight of the ice causes lines to snap, or tree branches above the power lines break and fall into the line, among other reasons.
In the KEM service area, transmission outages plagued distribution line-restoration efforts. Due to the weight of the ice on transmission lines, three substations went offline. Two were de-energized overnight, until an Army of lineworkers knocked ice from the lines with fiberglass hot sticks.
Members helped play an important role in restoration efforts. By calling dispatch and logging their outages, many conveyed where they had seen twisted or snapped power lines, and downed poles. Providing locations made the restoration process more efficient.
KEM lost one-third of its power system to the rime ice. It took four days and many lineworkers to restore power. They worked long hours, starting at 6 a.m. and stopping after 10 p.m. Even though it was an inconvenience to the membership, KEM received tremendous support from its members, who left positive comments on Facebook, Messenger, and through phone calls to the office.
One of many benefits of Innovative Energy Alliance Cooperative is the synergy of working together. During larger-scale power outages, the member-cooperatives can bring equipment and manpower together quickly, going from 10 linemen to 30 linemen who can start and finish restoring outages much more quickly and reduce outage times to the members.
That’s where the value is for the member at the end of the line.