OEC is our name. Reliability is our game.
OEC is our name. Reliability is our game. As an OEC member, you already have a leg up over your investor-owned utility neighbors. How? Recent data shows investor-owned utility customers were without power 175 percent longer than OEC members. Reliability matters, and no one in central Oklahoma is doing it better than OEC.
“In 2021, our members experienced an average outage time of 65.1 minutes for the entire year — exactly half of what it was in 2016, when members were without power for an average of 129 minutes,” said CEO Patrick Grace. “That number dropped to 58.1 in 2022, meaning — across the board — our members were without power for an average of less than one hour last year, which is pretty remarkable.”
OEC’s score of 58.1 places us in the top 20 percent of most reliable electric co-ops in the nation. It also takes into consideration the outage time due to our generation and transmission provider, Western Farmers Electric Cooperative. If we were to only look at the outage factors we can control, that number drops to 51.8.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission reported investor-owned utility scores have a three-year average of 106 to 160 — 82-175 percent higher than OEC’s score.
If you’re keeping record at home, the lower the score the better. After all, the goal is to keep the lights on.
LIGHTNING’S SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN RELIABILITY
Oklahoma consistently ranks in the top five most lightning prone states and it showed in our electrical system prior to 2017. This helped OEC’s board of trustees create a 2017 strategic initiative to address and eradicate issues caused by lightning.
“We emphasized the much needed upgrading of our lightning protection equipment, which has played a large role in reducing outage time,” said Nick Shumaker, manager of system engineering.
Proof that this focused effort is paying off can be found in the data.
“Since 2016, we’ve been using analytics to stop outages before they occur,” said Shumaker. “Thanks to this information and the strides we’ve made in our system hardening intitiative, outages caused by lightning strikes have decreased significantly over the years. This is pretty incredible considering the number of lightning strikes in our service area increased from 34,445 in 2021 to 138,285 in 2022.”
Strides will continue to be made in the upgrading of lightning protection equipment until all feeders on all substations are operating at a satisfactory level.
OTHER EFFORTS BEING MADE TO PROVIDE RELIABLE ELECTRICITY
Vegetation management plays a large role in providing safe, reliable electricity. Co-ops and electric companies in general sometimes get a bad rap for the role we play in the removal of trees, but our efforts help our system withstand Oklahoma’s unpredictable weather. We’re a fan of trees at OEC, just not intermingled with our electric lines. In fact, we encourage the safe planting of trees in a mindful location in conjunction with our infrastructure. Read page 8 for our free tree-planting guide and more information.
The addition of fiber communications to our substations and members has also helped improve our reliability. We have not only strengthened our infrastructure but we have been able to deploy smart grid technology thanks to the fast, reliable connections provided by our OEC Fiber services. Because our system now has the ability to automatically activate equipment and reroute power in the case of an outage, members may experience short blinks rather than extended outages.
All of our efforts culminate with one mission: to improve your quality of life with the safe delivery of highly reliable, reasonably priced electric service, innovative energy programs and exceptional member service.
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