Updated: Nov. 2, 4 p.m.
Electric cooperatives in Oklahoma are making good progress rebuilding their systems following a rare early-season ice storm on Oct. 25 that knocked out power to more than 76,000 co-op members, mainly in the state’s western and central regions.
With the help of warm temperatures and a large number of mutual assistance crews from in-state and out-of-state, co-ops have reduced outages as of midday Monday down to around 9,500.
Officials at Oklahoma’s Electric Cooperatives said at least 13 distribution co-ops were impacted by the storm, suffering damages estimated to be in the multimillion-dollar range.
“Ice storms create havoc in our industry, and no one expected a storm of this magnitude this early in the fall season,” said OAEC General Manager Chris Meyers. “We appreciate all linemen who left the comfort of their homes to assist the hardest-hit electric cooperatives in adverse conditions. Their commitment to help others truly underscores the strength of the cooperative spirit.”
Assistance arrived from 16 co-ops based in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Affected co-ops with remaining outages expect to be fully restored by Thursday, with the exception of CKEnergy Electric Cooperative, which was particularly hard-hit and is predicting outages to last several more days.
“We have been hit hard by this historic ice storm, but our crews and mutual aid assistance crews are no strangers to this type of strenuous work,” said CKenergy CEO Clint Pack. “While this will be a long-term outage for many of our members, we will not rest until every member has power restored.”
Western Farmers Electric Cooperative, the power supplier for 17 co-ops, said current assessments have found 173 downed or damaged transmission structures, with that total expected to rise as aerial inspections continue.
All told, the storm halted some 384,000 meters in the state, including at co-ops, municipals and investor-owned utilities. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt issued an emergency declaration for 47 Oklahoma counties.
Anna Politano is editor of Oklahoma Living magazine and Scot Hoffman is editor of NRECA News.