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FOLLOWING IS THE UNITED COOP SERVICES PRESS RELEASE:
From: "Marty Haught" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: April 21, 2011 6:21:52 PM CDT
To: "Linda Johnson" <email@example.com>
Subject: FW: United Cooperative Services to Hold Press Conference/Member Info Session on Wildfire Damage and Power Restoration Efforts at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at its Possum Kingdom Lake Office
For Immediate Release
April 21, 2011United Cooperative Services to Hold Press Conference/Member Info Session on Wildfire Damage and Power Restoration Efforts at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at its Possum Kingdom Lake OfficeCLEBURNE – United Cooperative Services will hold a press conference/member information session at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at its Possum Kingdom Lake Office, located at 1722 Park Rd. 36. United CEO Ray Beavers and key staff will provide a status report on restoration and rebuilding efforts
Emergency officials announced on April 21 that property owners will soon be admitted into the Possum Kingdom Lake area to allow personal assessments of their properties. As a result, United Cooperative Services has also been able to ramp up its damage assessment efforts now that greater access to the affected areas is being granted. Those damage assessments to its distribution system (poles, lines, transformers, etc.) have not been extensive to date (April 21, 2011) due to a lack of accessibility and emergency safety restrictions. However, early estimates suggest 1,500-1,800 poles and 180 miles of electric distribution line has been affected by the wild fires. This is the first wave of several assessments. This assessment is focused on safety and minimizing safety hazards for those members choosing to access their properties. Area property owners are assuming their own risk for entering areas, whether they’ve been examined by United assessors or not. All power lines should be presumed to be energized and all caution should be used in areas where power lines and infrastructure are damaged or down on the ground.
Following this safety assessment, United will conduct a more detailed assessment to develop a strategic restoration and rebuilding plan. Crews from across the cooperative's seven offices will begin executing that plan as expeditiously as possible and United has outside contractor crews waiting for the green light to assist in the restoration efforts.
Property owners utilizing their own generators to power their facilities and equipment could pose a safety risk to restoration crews as well as the general public. Further, to protect the safety of United crews working in the areas, it is important to notify United if using a generator and where it's located.
United will update members and the media of restoration/rebuilding efforts at 1 p.m. on April 23 at the Possum Kingdom Lake Office (address above). Also, United's Possum Kingdom Lake office will have personnel available Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. for members to report safety issues (not restoration issues).
In some cases, there are areas that avoided damage from the fires, but the acreage/landscape between those areas andUnited’s distribution lines has been burned and United’s infrastructure destroyed. As a result, even areas that seemingly appear to be okay from a fire damage perspective will still be impacted by power outages because the system “up-line” or “down-line” has been severely damaged.
Further, prior to setting new utility poles, the cooperative is required to have Digtess—which helps identify buried facilities before excavators begin digging—locate underground infrastructure, such as pipelines. That process, while necessary to help ensure the safety of United's members and employees, delay the restoration efforts. United encourages members and the public to prepare for such a challenging circumstance.
United emphasizes the need for members and the general public to stay clear of downed power lines. If a power line or utility pole is down, stay clear and call United or local emergency crews.
During a loss of electricity, members of United Cooperative Services should call their area office and report the outage. Have your account number ready to expedite the call:
Glen Rose 254-897-9439
Possum Kingdom 940-779-2985
About United Cooperative Services:
Established in 1938 and headquartered in Cleburne, Texas, United Cooperative Services is an electric distribution cooperative serving more than 73,000 meters and over 53,000 members. A member of Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives,United plays a key role in the economic development of its communities and unlike a private utility, the cooperative is a not-for-profit business owned by the members it serves. Maintaining more than 9,125 miles of energized line, United serves all or parts of Johnson, Erath, Hood, Bosque, Somervell, Palo Pinto, Coryell, Eastland, Comanche, Stephens, Young, Hamilton, Tarrant and Ellis counties.
Fires that started in west Texas early last week and moved east were aided by extremely dry conditions and high winds, according to a Reuters report. The fires migrated toward the Possum Kingdom Lake area of United's service area on April 15, forcing the cooperative to take drastic measures. At the direction of the fire marshal, United de-energized some of its electric distribution lines serving more than 1,000 members in the region. United is unable to assess the extent of the damage to its infrastructure in many areas due to previous evacuation mandates preventing accessibility to some of those areas.
United crews are currently working to restore power where the possibility to do so exists. However, due to the severity of the damage, many areas victimized by the fires will certainly require extensive repair, if not complete rebuilding of large sections of the distribution system.
In some cases, there are areas that avoided damage from the fires, but the acreage/landscape between those areas and United’s distribution lines has been burned and United’s infrastructure destroyed. As a result, even areas that seemingly appear to be okay from a fire damage perspective will still be impacted by power outages because the system “up-line” or “down-line” has been severely damaged.
Early estimates, which have not been confirmed, suggest several hundred utility poles have been destroyed by the fire. As a result, it will be an extended period that many members will be without power. That extended period could be from days to weeks. Once United is allowed access to all of its service territory, it will ramp up damage assessments and the rebuilding process. United crews will be aided by outside contractor crews to expedite the rebuilding process.
Further, prior to setting new utility poles, the cooperative is required to have Digtess—which helps identify buried facilities before excavators begin digging—locate underground infrastructure, such as pipelines. That process, while necessary to help ensure the safety of United's members and employees, could hold up the restoration efforts. United encourages members and the public to prepare for such a challenging circumstance.
Due to the mandatory evacuation of the Possum Kingdom Lake area, United has closed its Possum Kingdom office until further notice.
Senior Vice President, Communications & Public Relations
United Cooperative Services