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Winter Warning: BE PREPARED

Message from the President, Ron Salyer

Winter is here, and your co-op is well prepared for the usual challenges of the season: frigid temperatures, snow, and ice. Some winter weather creates particularly challenging conditions for lineworkers when they’re called upon to restore electric service, but our crews are ready 24/7 to address outages, with safety our top priority.

Every year, and this year is no different, Pioneer asks our members to also be prepared, because those winter storms and temperatures are unpredictable and can bring down power lines, trees, and branches, causing potentially longer outages than members expect, high energy use, and the possibility of reliability issues.

Storm ready

Winter storms and dangerously low temperatures are unpredictable, but by being prepared, you can help minimize your concerns if outages do occur.

In the event of a winter storm emergency, prioritizing the restoration of power and heat is important. Electric utility crews work tirelessly around the clock to address service interruptions, but the extensive damage caused by a winter storm may take days to repair. If you find yourself in the midst of storm recovery, avoid going outside whenever possible. Downed power lines could be covered by snow and ice, making them difficult to identify. Exercise caution when outdoors, treating all downed and hanging lines as if they are energized electric lines: Maintain a safe distance, alert others to stay away, and promptly contact your cooperative. Remember that downed power lines do not need to display arcing, sparking, or movement to be live and potentially hazardous.

Reliability + the grid

This year, our concern goes beyond the standard winter risks, and in contrast to problems your co-op can correct — like trees falling on our lines — this potential threat is beyond our control. Electricity consumers face the possibility of outages caused by shortfalls in available electricity.

Around Christmastime last year, bitter cold and extreme conditions during Winter Storm Elliott caused a spike in electricity demand and also caused many generation units to go offline due to weather impacts. Electric utilities in nearby states were forced to shut down power to some residents to avert widespread uncontrolled outages. Ohio only narrowly avoided such rolling blackouts.

Industry experts, including the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, now are warning that Ohio and much of the Midwest and eastern U.S. are at risk for similar scenarios if severe weather strikes again this winter. The premature closing of reliable fossil-fuel power plants has narrowed the gap between the supply of available electricity and the ever-growing demand for power.

When a winter storm drives even higher demand — and threatens supply at the same time — those charged with maintaining balance on the grid may require local utilities, including Pioneer, to reduce electricity use.

What this means for you

In addition to the possibility of “normal” winter outages, there’s a chance that your electric service could be interrupted by rolling blackouts. We can all take steps to reduce the likelihood of this happening by conserving energy, particularly on the coldest days. This might mean delaying doing laundry or running the dishwasher until temperatures rise. You might throw on an extra clothing layer and lower your thermostat by a few degrees to stay comfortable while using less electricity.

I encourage you to stay safe this winter and be prepared and we will do our best to do the same.

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