Co-Mo system unharmed by winter storm

Co-Mo Electric Cooperative’s system was unharmed by the winter storm that blasted Missouri on Thursday.

The storm dumped anywhere from 6 inches to a foot of snow across Co-Mo country throughout the day, though the predicted freezing rain wasn’t as bad as originally forecast.

Throughout the storm, the maximum number of Co-Mo members without power was 18, and that was because of the lightning, not the wind and snow.

Ken Johnson, the cooperative’s chief executive officer and general manager, said that is because of the members’ commitment to funding system-reliability improvements, including an aggressive right-of-way management program.

“Our members elect directors to give direction to the cooperative. Those directors are members just like them and, because of that, they are very responsive to the membership,” Johnson said. “Our Board of Directors has been very forward-thinking in funding preventative measures so that when major storms come through, the impact is minimal.”

The largest of those preventative measures is tree trimming in the cooperative’s right of way. By trimming trees and removing underbrush that could impact the cooperative’s lines and poles, there is a smaller chance high winds will affect members’ power supply.

“It’s expensive to maintain our right-of-way like we do,” Johnson said. “Sometimes writing those big checks is hard. It can be even harder for the Board of Directors to authorize. But when our system performs as well as it did in this storm, it’s worth it.”

Johnson urged members to remember events like Thursday’s storm when tree-trimming crews are in their neighborhood.

“When you see our right-of-way crews coming around to do their job, please understand that they will never ask to trim a tree that doesn’t need to be trimmed. If you hear about a neighbor who is reluctant to let those crews do their jobs, talk with them and tell them about the importance of the work to keeping the lights on for everyone down the line,” he said.

No right-of-way maintenance program can prevent the worst weather from causing system damager, Johnson said. For example, large quantities of ice fell in southeast Missouri and knocked power out for thousands of electric cooperative members. Restoration efforts were ongoing Friday.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those cooperatives and their members as they work to get the power back on,” Johnson said. “No matter how much you prepare, ice and wind will cause damage when it’s like what they got down there.”

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