Severe Storms Damage Power Lines
The first two weeks of July brought three isolated storms that caused significant damage to both our transmission and distribution system. The first of the major storms occurred on July 3rd taking out 9 distribution power poles in the Animas/Cotton City area. Most members were out of power for just a short period of time as crews were able to reroute power from a different source while repairs were made.
On July 10th, at approximately 1:30 p.m., a severe thunderstorm passed through northern Luna County dropping two inch hail with wind gust in excess of 60 MPH. This storm knocked down 14 structures on our 69kV transmission system causing the loss of service to three of our distribution substations serving the Columbus, Hermanas, and Akela areas.
In addition to the storm damage, water runoff from the little Florida Mountains made access to the damaged line almost impassable.
The amount of damage caused by this storm was remarkable as transmission poles are bigger and stronger than distribution poles. With over 2,000 accounts initially affected, one line crew worked on rerouting and restoring service to about half of the affected members, while other crews continued to work on the downed transmission line.
With the assistance of contractors, backhoes and heavy equipment operators, service was restored to the remaining 1,000 members by early evening the following day.
The effort and teamwork required by all involved in restoring service under such adverse conditions was nothing short of heroic. A special thanks goes out to Bill Johnson who voluntarily joined the effort with his own tractor which was invaluable in minimizing outage time.
The last of the severe storms occurred on July 13th at 6 p.m. in the Pyramid Valley, damaging 9 distribution poles affecting 136 members. Once again our crews worked throughout the night and by 7 a.m. the following morning, power was restored.
The special people we have working at your Co-op demonstrate their commitment through dedication, hard work and an unremitting devotion to serving our members.
I am frequently amazed at the resilience of people faced with tough situations and we've had some tough ones this past month. Monsoon storms can be an incredible act of nature that causes undue hardship for our members and employees. Both groups performed admirably in the most recent, very trying circumstances.
To our members, I want to say that you are some of the most patient, caring and resourceful folks I know. We all certainly understand how much we depend on electricity in our daily lives. To have to go without power for a few hours can be tough. To have to go without power for an entire day is really tough, it can be frustrating, aggravating even maddening. We understand, that's why we communicate the harsh realities that sometimes face our line crews as they work to restore power. In the days following the July 10th transmission outage, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of hand written notes and calls expressing your support and appreciation for our line workers and other employees. I can't thank you enough. And to our employees, I must say you are some of the best people to work with, your dedication to serving our members earns my highest appreciation. Each employee deserves recognition, but two circumstances serve as shining examples of the group. Our Operations Manager Sonny Parra on July 10th was with his crews all night and the next day until an hour before his daughter was to be married. On July 13th, Tyson Evans worked all night on his anniversary so members would have power when they woke up in the morning. All our employees have worked long hours that would be tough enough for anyone, demonstrating a dedication and willingness to serve, that our members can be proud of.
As we evaluate this past month's storms and our response to them, we will continue to make improvements. Member communication is always a high priority for me. And although I know even with our many phone lines, we will never be able to answer all the phone calls that might come in during a widespread outage, you can rest assured we're on the job.
With a little more time left in the monsoon season I hope Mother Nature will be gentle with us, but I also know that together we can weather these storms. Chris Martinez, Executive Vice President/General Manager.
LIHEAP Protection Notice
"Protection from winter shut-off begins
November 15, 2014
To avoid potential disconnection of services please, contact the human services department at 800-283-4465, or the appropriate tribal or pueblo entity for eligibility information for low-income heating energy assistance program (LIHEAP). Your service will not be disconnected from November 15, 2015, through March 15, 2016, if you meet the qualifications of LIHEAP and have no past due amounts or you remain current on any settlement or installment agreement for amounts due as of November 15, 2015. Members of New Mexico tribes or pueblos who need help with translation or with other matters may contact the commission's consumer relations division at 888-427-5772, who will contact the appropriate tribal or pueblo official for assistance." "Para informacion en español llame 1-800-950-2667."
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