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Humans take a toll on co-op equipment

Vehicle hitting and breaking a power pole

Weather and the elements take the biggest toll on our electric system, but humans exert a hefty price too.

One day last spring, our crews replaced five broken poles in five different locations. Each pole had been hit by a vehicle.

“We’re seeing an increase in poles and electric enclosures being hit because of distracted driving and speed,” said ECE Operations Manager Dave Curtis. “Whenever possible, we bill the responsible party for damage to co-op facilities to cover our time and materials. We don’t want all members to assume responsibility for damage they didn’t cause.”

In 2016, we billed for nearly $168,000 in damages for 20 broken poles, 26 dig-ins to underground lines, 29 damaged overhead lines, seven damaged transformers, and miscellaneous incidents, such as damage to guy wires and junction boxes.

Thankfully, no one was hurt in any of these incidents, but we are seeing more collisions with our equipment.

“It’s very rare to have a week when we don’t have something happen,” said ECE Finance Specialist Kathy Richter. “The first snowfall in the winter always brings some accidents, and in summer we have dig-ins and farming-related incidents.”

ECE Safety and Loss Control Administrator Marc Dahlquist reminds everyone to “Look Up and Look Out” for power lines when they are working or playing outdoors. “Keep yourself and your equipment at least 10 feet away,” he said.
Marc also stressed the importance of calling 811 to have underground utilities located before you start a project that involves digging.

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