Saluting Oklahoma Volunteers

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

With over 1,200 miles of high voltage electric lines and associated rights-of-way (ROW) included in its sophisticated energy delivery system, the Grand River Dam Authority has literally left its mark on Oklahoma.

While many people know the “face” of GRDA to be the 70,000 surface acres of water that comprise Grand and Hudson Lakes in Northeast Oklahoma, the Authority’s miles and miles of electric transmission lines may very well be the backbone. After all, those lines deliver GRDA’s low-cost, reliable electricity into many parts of the state to power homes, businesses, farms, ranches, hospitals and schools.

Of course, maintaining those lines and the related equipment (like electric substations) takes a dedicated, 24/7 – 365 type of effort. While GRDA systems operation personnel have a constant eye on all parts of the system and can quickly spot any problems, GRDA maintenance personnel are the on-site crews, making the necessary repairs. Together, both functions help GRDA to maintain its reputation of high-reliability.

However, sometimes nature challenges reliability. Floods, tornados, ice storms and yes, even wildfires, have been known to wreak havoc on electric lines, transformers, and poles. Such has been the case in the recent past as GRDA and other Oklahoma electric utilities have rebuilt parts of their systems following ice storms, floods and tornados. It is true today too, in the wake of early August’s devastating wildfires in Oklahoma, as some utility crews still work to rebuild power lines.

GRDA Lineman Scott Monahan (foreground) surveys the damage done to a power pole by the recent wildfires that swept through the Mannford areas. GRDA crews are helping the city with restoration efforts (photo by GRDA Lineman Steven Willis).

Meanwhile, during the recent blazes near Mannford (and blazes near Stillwater the week before), GRDA personnel (many of them volunteer firemen) worked alongside firemen and others to help extinguish the blazes and protect the power lines. Sometimes, that meant battling the flames on burning power poles in ROW areas after the initial wildfires passed through.  Even before the flames were all out, GRDA crews were helping the city of Mannford (a GRDA municipal customer community) with power restoration efforts by setting up generators to keep the city water plant running. In Stillwater (another GRDA municipal customer community) last week, GRDA crews helped Stillwater Electric Utility crews installed eight new power poles, to replace those earlier lost to the flames.

We certainly hope that the worst of the summer wildfires are behind us. GRDA takes this time to salute not only all our employees who helped battle the flames and safe-guard and watch over our system, but also all those Oklahoma men and women who volunteer as firemen, first responders and disaster relief personnel in our state. GRDA is proud to supply the power to the cities and towns where the volunteer spirit and dedication to community is alive and well.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Directly or indirectly, GRDA’s low-cost, reliable; electricity serves nearly 500,000 homes in Oklahoma and stretches into 75 of 77 counties in the state. At no cost to Oklahoma taxpayers, GRDA also manages 70,000 surface acres of lakes in the state, including Grand Lake, Lake Hudson and the W.R. Holway Reservoir. Today, GRDA’s 500 employees continue to produce the same “power for progress” that has benefited the state for 75 years.
                – Justin Alberty
                GRDA Corporate Communications Director

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This article is part of the GRDA Power For Progress series.