Answering the call again

Power for Progress… a weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority.

Heading out to help … GRDA Police Captain Casey King (second from right) speaks with GRDA’s Nathan Willis while GRDA officers (Lynn Hershberger, Alan Davis, Jeremy Cantrell and Billy Blackwell) look on. All six GRDA employees were preparing to leave for North Carolina to provide water rescue assistance in the wake of Hurricane Florence. All six were part of a larger Mayes County contingent that also included Mayes County Emergency Management, Pryor Fire Department and Locust Grove Fire Department (where Willis is a volunteer). The group also traveled with members of the Quapaw Tribe Fire/EMS team.

When five Grand River Dam Authority Police Officers headed to North Carolina last Friday to assist with hurricane recovery efforts, they carried on a mutual aid and disaster recovery tradition that has been in place at GRDA for quite some time.

Traveling as part of a larger team that also included personnel from Mayes County Emergency Management, Pryor Fire Department, Locust Grove Fire Department and the Quapaw Tribe Fire/EMS, the officers deployed to some of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Florence. Along with thousands of other emergency personnel, they are there to assist with water rescues and evacuations necessitated by the extreme rainfall amounts carried through by Florence. After two days of travel, the ten vehicle convoy, carrying 22 responders, arrived at the staging area in Raleigh, North Carolina, on September 16. Soon after, they were putting their swift water rescue training to work in Columbus County, about two hours south of Raleigh. They will likely be in the area for quite some time.

Just last year, a Mayes County contingent, including GRDA personnel, performed similar duties in Houston, Texas, following Hurricane Harvey. Also last year, GRDA Linemen traveled to Lakeland, Florida, as part of a nationwide mutual aid effort, to restore electricity to areas hit hard by Hurricane Irma. In previous years, GRDA has also provided assistance following Hurricane Matthew (Florida) and Hurricane Rita (Louisiana). In fact, Oklahomans from many different agencies have answered the call in recent years to help neighboring states following natural disasters.

While hurricanes are not something you normally associate with Oklahoma, there are plenty of Oklahomans with hurricane recovery experience. 

GRDA is proud to be a part of that Oklahoma tradition and mutual aid efforts, alongside other agencies.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency. 

Stay safe, no matter the season

Power for Progress… a weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority.

Fall scenes and fall safety… Soon enough, the leaves will begin to take on their fall colors, like these along the shores of Grand Lake in this 2017 photo. As we transition from summer to fall, the Grand River Dam Authority is passing along some electrical safety tips especially for the season.

It may be a little bit early to think about parking the lawnmower for the remainder of the year, but there has been a touch of fall in the air in recent weeks and soon enough, the calendar will make it official.

As one season gives way to the next, it is always appropriate to revisit some important electric safety tips specific to the new season. With that in mind, the Grand River Dam Authority passes along these cool weather tips from the Electric Safety Foundation International.

  • When the time does come to put away the lawn maintenance equipment, be sure to store them safety and securely. Check cold weather tools, such as leaf and snow blowers, along with their power cords, for unusual wear and tear. Repair or replace worn tools or parts right away.
  • Are you finished with that weed trimmer battery charger until spring? It’s a good idea to unplug it and store it away as well.
  • Remember to use only weatherproof electrical devices for outside activities. Protect outdoor electrical devices from moisture. Make sure electrical equipment that has been wet is inspected and reconditioned by a certified repair dealer.
  • It won’t be long until the leaves start falling. Be sure to keep dry leaves swept away from outdoor lighting, outlets and power cords.
  • Back indoors, make sure all your electric blankets are in good repair and certified by an independent testing lab such as UL, CSA or ETL. If they have been stored away for a while, inspect them thoroughly before use. Power cords should not be frayed, cracked or cut.

These are just a few tips intended to help you transition from summer to fall in a safe manner. Your friends at GRDA want you to stay safe, no matter the season.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: employees, electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, and efficiency.

 

Another successful tour season

Power for Progress… a weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority.

Wrapping up the 2018 tour season … With the 2018 Labor Day weekend behind us, the free daily tours of Pensacola Dam powerhouse have ended for another year. As GRDA tour guides put the wraps on another successful season, they are sharing some numbers from this summer.

This summer, they came from all over the country and even the world to see one of Oklahoma’s first engineering marvels. However, that is really nothing new, because for several years now, people have been visiting Langley to take part in the free tours of the Grand River Dam Authority’s Pensacola Dam.

Now, with the 2018 Labor Day weekend behind us, the free daily tours of the dam have ended for another year. So, as the GRDA tour guides put the wraps on another successful season, they are sharing some numbers that tell the story of the 2018 dam tours.

Residents of 45 Oklahoma counties, 35 different states (plus Washington, D.C.) and nine different countries came to Langley this summer to see Oklahoma’s first hydroelectric facility first-hand. Altogether, approximately 4,000 people toured the dam, divided into 538 different tours. In fact, GRDA welcomed nearly 700 more visitors in 2018 than it did in 2017.

Meanwhile, GRDA continues to support Oklahoma education by hosting several schools groups each year at the dam. Over the course of the last school year, 24 different school groups, ranging in age from elementary students to college students studying electrical engineering, also passed through the Pensacola Dam.

What’s the real significance of all these tours? They do help GRDA fulfill an important part of its overall mission: “to assist in area economic development.” After all, when visitors come to the dam – and begin their tours at the GRDA Ecosystems and Education Center – they not only learn about hydroelectricity, but also about the lake region, and the wonderful recreation and tourism opportunities that exist across the area. While many of those visitors may come to the region frequently, many others could have experienced the area for the first time but are already planning a return trip. That is good for the region and good for Oklahoma.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: employees, electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, and efficiency.

Public Power Education

Power for Progress… a weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority.

Public power gathering … GRDA Director/City of Wagoner Administrator Dwayne Elam addresses the crowd during a special utility rate design workshop hosted by GRDA at the MidAmerica Industrial Park Expo on August 22. Elam represents GRDA’s municipal customer communities the board of directors.

Last week, the Grand River Dam Authority had the opportunity to host representatives from its many municipal customer communities during a special workshop, held at the MidAmerica Expo building in Pryor.

The topic was “Cost of Service & Utility Rate Design” and the day was devoted to a better understanding of all the factors associated with setting rates for non-profit electric utilities. After all, that is what all of GRDA’s municipal customer communities are: cost-of-service utilities that exist to provide a service and not to turn a profit.

Across Oklahoma, GRDA sells wholesale electricity to 15 communities that own and operate their own municipal distribution system. In turn, these systems sell retail power to the end-users in their communities. This is the public power model. Some are fairly large municipals, serving thousands of meters, while others are smaller, serving 1,200 meters or less. However, they all operate in much the same way. Money made from the sale of electricity is used to maintain the system, provide customer service, purchase more wholesale power from GRDA and also to help fund other city services like streets and parks, police and fire protection.

Public power rates set at cost-of-service levels and according to the American Public Power Association those rates are, on average, approximately 2 cents lower per kilowatt hour than for-profit utilities. Instead of making a profit, public power utilities also return approximately 5.6 percent of their electric operating revenues to their communities.

With all this in mind, it is easy to see why good rate information and structure is important in helping these communities not only supply low-cost, reliable power but also supply customer service, enhance quality of life and support economic development.  All of this is done with one overriding goal: serve the citizen-owners of the utility.

GRDA is proud to be a part of this process and the greater Oklahoma public power team that helps to meet the electric needs of a combined 82,000 meters in these communities.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency.

Back to school with electric safety

Power for Progress… a weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority.

Electricity lessons… GRDA Lineman Colt Smith instructs these third-grade students about electric safety during their class trip to GRDA at the end of the 2018 spring semester. As the fall semester is getting underway, GRDA is sharing some special “back to school” safety tips.

Many area students are already back in class while many others will be returning this week. As thousands of Oklahoma families are slowly shifting from summer mode back into a more structured school routine, it’s also a great time to revisit electric safety.  

Whether your student is headed off to Pre-K, junior high or moving into the college dorm room, the Grand River Dam Authority wants them to stay safe this semester. With that in mind, here are some safety tips that are ready to go back to school with your student: 

  • Setting up a new computer workstation for homework, or maybe organizing your electronics in the dorm room? Do NOT nail or staple extension cords to walls or baseboard. And if any cords are frayed or damaged, replace them.
  • If you need extension cords in the dorm room, remember to use only cords which have been approved by an independent testing laboratory. Also, make sure they have been properly rated for their intended use. Finally, don’t run them under rugs or through doorways.
  • Let your young students know to NEVER put a paperclip, a pencil or any writing utensils of any kind into an electrical outlet.
  • For parents of younger students: Will your kids be walking to and from the bus stop or school? Make sure they know to stay clear of all high voltage electrical components along the route. Also, because Mother Nature or accidents can sometimes cause power lines to go down, make sure your children know to STAY AWAY from these lines. The ground around power lines can still be energized – up to 35 feet away. Also, NEVER touch or step in water near a downed power line.
  • Do you have a new driver in the family that will be driving back and forth from school for the first time this semester? Remind them to watch carefully for any utility crews at work along their route to school. And if they would happen to be in an accident involving power poles or power lines, they should ALWAYS assume the electric is live and use extreme caution.
  • In such instances, staying in the vehicle and waiting for help is nearly always the safest thing to do. However, if they must exit the vehicle due to car fire, they should jump from the vehicle, with both feet. Never touch the car and the ground at the same time. Then hop away from the vehicle.

Your friends at GRDA want you to stay safe and have a great school year!

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency.