System maintenance can mean many things to an electric co-op. The first thing many people think of is pole replacements. This is a big part of our annual maintenance and something we budget for each year. This process starts with our in-house pole inspection program.
Each year our crew inspects 8,000 to 10,000 poles. An average year will find 1,000 or more reject poles to be replaced. Crews continually work to change these poles throughout the year. In addition, AEC’s six area servicemen drive their respective service areas annually for a visual inspection of all lines and associated equipment. The co-op’s spray and pole testing crew also assist with the inspections.
Problems such as cracked or broken insulators, bad cross-arms, cross-arm braces, low clearance, or broken wires may be found during these inspections. Maintaining over 3,300 miles of distribution line on our system is complex. The weather conditions we experience in Oklahoma cause many of the problems we find. Extreme winds, lightning, tornadoes, ice storms, and trees contribute to damage and outages.
Ongoing inspections and preventative maintenance make a big difference in system reliability. Our efforts to find problems before they cause a failure significantly reduce outage time for our members. We know we cannot beat Mother Nature if she unleashes her fury, but we can mitigate the effects. Over the years, AEC’s Board of Trustees and management have been committed to system maintenance and reliability to serve you, our member-owners, the best we can.