Lightning myths and facts

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

Lightning lessons … May is National Electric Safety Month and, all month long, the Grand River Dam Authority is sharing important electric safety tips. This week, the focus is on lightning, with tips from the Electric Safety Foundation International (efsi.org).

Each year, the Electric Safety Foundation International (ESFI) designates May as National Electric Safety Month and takes advantage of the time to promote safe electricity practices nationwide. The Grand River Dam Authority is proud to join in this effort by sharing ESFI safety tips and reminders in this space.

This week, the focus is lightning. With the possibility of spring and summer storms over the next few months, this is a good time to separate some lightning myths from lightning facts, via these esfi.org tips. Keep this in mind and stay safe!

MYTH: If it’s not raining or cloudy, you’re safe from lightning.

FACT: If you can hear thunder, lightning is nearby. Lightning often strikes over 10 miles from the center of the thunderstorm.

MYTH: In the event of a lightning strike, the rubber in a car’s tires protect occupants from being harmed.

FACT: If struck, it is the metal frame of the car that provides protection. The charge travels through the frame and into the ground without harming occupants if they avoid touching anything that conducts a charge.

MYTH: A lightning strike victim carries a charge and should not be touched.

FACT: Lightning travels at about 220,000,000 miles per hour and will have exited the body by the time you approach. Check for a pulse and render first aid if possible. Call 911 immediately!

Finally, remember to use the 30/30 rule: When you see lightning count until you hear thunder. If that time is 30 seconds or less, the thunderstorm is within six miles of you and is dangerous. Immediately seek shelter indoors or in a hardtop vehicle and remain until you have not heard thunder for 30 minutes.

During the month of May, be looking for other electric safety tips in this space. For even more information about National Electric Safety Month and good safety practices, visit esfi.org.

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.

GRDA and Riverology 101

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

A unique summer workshop opportunity for local educators is still accepting participants.

Riverology 101 … A unique three-day workshop for area educators is set to take place in mid-June. There is still time to register.

The workshop – Riverology 101 – brings together a diverse group of water quality, water management, and conservation and education professionals for three full days of information sharing and hands-on learning in mid-June. And much of that time will be spent along the river bank.

With both the Grand River System and the Scenic Illinois River under its control, the Grand River Dam Authority is committed to being a good steward of these important Oklahoma natural resources. That means caring not only for the waters but also working to help enhance the quality of life for all those who utilize these resources. Helping to educate others about these waters, through events like Riverology 101, is one of the ways GRDA works towards its stewardship goals.

This three-day workshop is designed for teachers and environmental educators who will participate in hands-on learning experiences (some of the activities are outside and on the water) that can easily be used in the classroom. Participants will also learn about point and non-point source pollution, erosion, stream and lake ecology and programs the sponsoring organizations can bring to your school or education event. Finally, registration also includes lodging, meals, a float trip on the Illinois River, as well as other education materials.

This year’s event will be held June 12-14 but registration ends May 24. For more information or questions, contact GRDA’s Jacklyn Jaggars at jjaggars@grda.com or 918-256-0723.

GRDA is proud to co-sponsor the event along with the Blue Thumb Program, OSU Cooperative Extension Services 4-H, Ag in the Classroom and the Oklahoma Water Survey.

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.

GRDA and Oklahoma Public Power

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

Public Power Partners … GRDA Assistant General Counsel Ash Mayfield speaks to GRDA’s municipal customer group during the 2019 Municipal Electric Systems of Oklahoma (MESO) Public Power Conference.

They came from all over the state last week to meet in Norman, Oklahoma, for the 2019 Municipal Electric Systems of Oklahoma (MESO) Public Power Conference.

As the name suggests, this is the annual gathering of Oklahoma’s public power team. Representatives from the state’s cities and towns that own their own electric utility systems were there to discuss current industry issues, attend training sessions and meet with their Oklahoma peers.

Of course, GRDA was well-represented at the conference too. As the wholesale electric supplier for 15 Oklahoma communities, GRDA is an integral part of Oklahoma’s public power team and has been for many years. In fact, the majority of GRDA partnerships with Oklahoma customer communities are over 60 years old and those same customers have signed long-term agreements that will continue the relationship for decades to come.

These partnerships allow customer communities to buy their electricity from GRDA at wholesale rates and then resell it to their end-users at retail rates. The profit made from those sales is then used to help fund important municipal service efforts such as police and fire protection, streets and parks. These are important and necessary revenue dollars made possible at no cost to Oklahoma taxpayers, because of public power.

While GRDA provides wholesale electricity to 15 Oklahoma communities, you can actually find public power systems in one of every ten Oklahoma communities. Combined, these systems generate roughly $350 million in revenues from electricity sales each year and a large portion of those revenues stay home, in Oklahoma hometowns, where they can do the most good.

GRDA is proud to be a part of Oklahoma public power.

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.

Room for our feathered friends

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

GREC GEESE … Here are just a few of the feathered friends that can be spotted around the Grand River Dam Authority’s Grand River Energy Center (GREC). The site’s ponds have been a haven for all kinds of waterfowl over the years.

Since it began operations in the early 1980s, the Grand River Dam Authority’s Grand River Energy Center (GREC) has seen a lot of people pass through its doors. After all, it takes a large team to operate this facility 24/7/365. Home to nearly 1,000 megawatts of electric generation capacity, the GREC is a vital component in GRDA’s overall mission to deliver affordable and reliable electricity.

However, even in the midst of all the power production and efficient operations, there is one constant group of visitors that have very little interest in any of the electric generation activities. Instead, these feathered friends are much more interested in the site’s ponds and waterfowl-friendly acreage. In fact, for over 30 years now, the GREC grounds have drawn all sorts of birds, as well as deer and other wildlife.

Canada Geese would be considered the most frequent visitors, with some even living and even nesting on site. However, plenty of others are around from time to time to keep the geese company.

The list of birds that have been documented on-site over the years is a long one. While some are well known; like bald eagles and Great Blue Herons, others, like the Common Gallinule or Great Egret, are lesser-known but also present. Snowy Egrets and Green Herons have also been spotted along with a long list of ducks, geese and duck-like birds including Mallards, Wood Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, Coots, Buffleheads, Red Heads, Blue-winged Teals, Green-winged Teals, Lesser Scaups, Gadwalls and Widgeons. The list also includes Ring Necks, Canvasbacks, Shovelers, Golden-eyes, Snow Geese and Pintails.

With environmental stewardship among its core missions, the Grand River Dam Authority is proud to be a sanctuary for so many species of wildlife, right next door to its round-the-clock, reliable electricity production.

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.

Still time to Rush for Brush …

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

Original Rush For Brush … Volunteers help the GRDA Ecosystems Management Department build artificial fish habitats in this flashback photo from 2007. This was at the first workshop, held on Lake Hudson.

The Grand River Dam Authority Ecosystems Management Department held its first Rush for Brush workshop of the season a couple of weeks ago, but if you did not have the chance to participate in that one, you need to put Saturday, May 18 on your calendar.

On that date, GRDA will bring its innovative and award-winning fisheries enhancement program to Langley, in the lower parking lot near the Ecosystems and Education Center. The workshop will begin at 9AM and, as always, GRDA will provide the materials while volunteers provide the manpower.

Believe it or not, 2019 marks the 13th year that GRDA has been hosting Rush for Brush workshops around the shores of Grand and Hudson lakes. During that time, thousands of the artificial habitats have been constructed and placed in those lake waters. However, there is room for more.

GRDA first began the Rush for Brush program in the spring of 2007, with a handful of habitats constructed by a few volunteers. Since then, the program has steadily grown, thanks in large part to a sizable group of volunteers that now shows up to build the habitats and then take them along for placement in the waters. Just last year, in May of 2018, the program was named as a 2018 recipient of the National Hydropower Association’s Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters award. In 2017, it was also recognized on the state level by the Keep Oklahoma Beautiful organization.

Once again, if you want to take part in the next event, plan on May 18 in Langley and contact GRDA’s Jacklyn Jaggars at (918) 256-0723 to register.

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. 

 

GRDA and the benefits of hydroelectricity

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

Historic hydroelectricity… Since they began operations in 1940, the hydroelectric units inside the Pensacola Dam powerhouse have played an important role in GRDA’s overall generation portfolio. Meanwhile, there are some other benefits of hydroelectricity that go hand-in-hand with power production.

Since its beginning in 1935, the Grand River Dam Authority has been in the hydroelectricity business. After all, Pensacola Dam – Oklahoma’s first hydroelectric facility — was built to harness the waters of the Grand River, and the river has produced a lot of megawatts of electricity for the state of Oklahoma in 70-plus years.

Of course, Pensacola is just one part of GRDA’s hydroelectric history. The Authority also built Robert S. Kerr Dam in the early 1960s and the Salina Pumped Storage Project (SPSP) in the late 1960s/early 1970s. All together, these resources play a role in meeting the electrical demand of thousands of Oklahomans all across the state, and it’s all done with clean, renewable hydroelectric power.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) hydroelectric facilities, like GRDA’s, “fit the concept of renewable energy” because these facilities use “running water, without reducing its quantity, to produce electricity.”  At GRDA, that water is used repeatedly as it flows down the Grand River, through Pensacola Dam and Kerr Dam, and also as it is pumped up and stored at the SPSP.

However, there are other benefits to producing electricity with the power of falling water. Here are a few:

  • Hydroelectricity increases the stability and reliability of electricity systems because hydroelectric generator units, like those inside GRDA dams, can be started very quickly. At GRDA, this quick start capability can then be mixed with other portions of our diverse generation portfolio — coal, gas and wind resources — to quickly meet demand, keep rates low and reliability high.
  • Hydroelectricity contributes to the storage of drinking water. Did you know that GRDA lakes serve as storage for 50 Oklahoma municipal water systems and rural water districts, including Tulsa? Without the presence of hydroelectric plants, that storage might not be available.
  • Hydroelectric power helps develop the entire region. Prior to Pensacola Dam, the surrounding region was rugged and rural. Today, that region is the heart of a large and thriving tourism and recreation industry that relies on GRDA lakes as well as the low-cost, reliable electricity produced by GRDA.
  • There are other hydro benefits but these are just a few of the reasons why the GRDA story, which began with Pensacola’s completion back in 1940, continues to be an important story for all of 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: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency. 

Electrical safety and spring cleaning

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

Check it out … Spring cleaning time is also a good time to consider a spring electrical inspection. This week, GRDA shares some tips you may want to keep in mind as you take on the task of readying your house for spring and summer.

Planning to do some spring cleaning during this stretch of nice weather? If so, the Grand River Dam Authority wants to remind you that spring cleaning time is also a great time to perform some spring electrical safety inspections in the home. To assist you in that process, we are once again passing along these tips from the Electrical Safety Foundation International.

  • The label inside the door or cover of your electric service panel should have a date to let you know when your electric system was last inspected. Is it time to inspect it again? Contact a licensed, qualified electrician and schedule an inspection.
  • Although we may not be at this point just yet, once you are finished with your furnace for the season, consider having it inspected by a licensed, qualified professional.
  • Check for excessive vibration or movement when the washing machine or dryer is operating. That movement can put stress on electrical connections.
  • Make sure the area around the dryer is free of clutter, and clean the dryer lint filter after each load.
  • Keep appliance cords away from hot surfaces like the range or toaster. Unplug the toaster and other countertop appliances when not in use.
  • Vacuum refrigerator coils to eliminate dirt buildup that can reduce efficiency and create a fire hazard.
  • Before firing up those electrical trimmers, inspect them, and other appliances, for frayed cords, broken plugs and cracked or broken housing. Repair or replace damaged items.

If recent warmer days have accelerated your spring “to-do” list, please keep these tips in mind. Your friends at GRDA want you to stay safe.

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. 

Dock talk …

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

Almost dock time … If you plan to buy or sell a dock in the near future, or if you are just looking forward to warmer days spent dockside on the shore of Grand or Hudson lakes, the Grand River Dam Authority wants to help answer the dock questions you may have, and remind you to have your dock’s electric system inspected.

Every year about this time, the Grand River Dam Authority poses the question: What’s up with your dock?

With the busy lake season just around the corner, it’s an important question for dock owners, sellers and buyers on Grand and Hudson lakes to consider. And while it is a simple question, it is really intended to lead to a few more questions: 

1)    Is your dock properly permitted?

2)    Do you have your dock sticker properly posted on the dock?

3)    Have you had it electrically inspected?

These are all important questions, especially for those who may be planning to sell a dock with lake property. That is because you must have a properly permitted dock to help make the property transition process a smooth one, and with thousands of private docks around the lake shores and thousands of property owners, this transition process takes place a lot.

However, whether or not you plan to buy or sell a dock, GRDA reminds you that a proper electrical inspection is still important. After a long winter of wave and wind action on the dock, it’s a good idea to have a licensed electrician check it out, to make sure that all electrical connections and components are still in place and in good working order. Just as you inspect your boat and get it ready for the boating season, you should do the same thing with your dock’s electric system. Please take that precaution if you plan on spending time on your dock this summer.

And if you have questions about dock permitting you can always contact the GRDA Lake Permitting office at (918) 256 0852 or you can stop by the GRDA Ecosystems and Education Center in Langley. 

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. 

 

Adopting the shoreline …

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

Adopt the shoreline … As the thoughts of many are already turning to summer and days spent on the water, it’s also a good time to give some thought to shoreline cleanup.

As the thoughts of many are already turning to summer and days spent on the water, it’s also a good time to give some thought to shoreline cleanup. With that in mind, the Grand River Dam Authority is reminding the public of the Grand Lake “Adopt the Shoreline” program, established in 2017 to help keep the lake shore safe and scenic.

The program is the result of a coordinated effort among GRDA, Grand Lake Power Squadron, Grand Lake Association, “Grow with Grove” Steering Committee and community volunteers. It was patterned after a very successful program on Lake of the Ozarks and will generate success on Grand Lake because of the work of a dedicated team of volunteers.

According to GRDA Superintendent of Shoreline Enforcement Scott Horton, GRDA and other partners realized the need for the “Adopt the Shoreline” after routine aerial surveys of the lake shore. While the “Lend a Hand for Lady Grand” program has been successful for many years on Grand, the shoreline adoption effort is expected to expand both the reach and volunteer base for cleanup efforts.

As part of the program, the shoreline is divided into 10 zones, with a coordinator for each zone who organizes cleanup events. GRDA supplies trash bags for the effort and will also be paying the disposal costs for all approved program cleanups. GRDA is also staffing its own full-time shoreline cleanup crew, complete with a barge and the equipment necessary to remove large debris from the shore.

With summer boating season inching closer and closer, it is a good time for new volunteers to get involved in the effort. For more information, you can visit the program’s website at www.grda.com/adopt-the-shoreline, and select the “how to join” tab. You can also contact Horton at (918) 256-0894 for more information.

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. 

Safety checklist for electrical cords

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

Safety checklist … A checklist to insure your home’s electric cords and appliances are in good working order may help prevent shocks and fires in the home.

Although National Burn Awareness Week is ending (the first week of February), it is still a good time to talk about burn awareness and fire safety. Of course, you can help prevent fires in your home with a checklist to insure your cords and appliances are in good working order and not in a position to cause a fire hazard.

The Grand River Dam Authority wants to help you with that checklist by passing along some information from the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI). Remember, you can find even more safety information on the ESFI site at electrical-safety.org.

  • Are any of the electric cords in your home cracked, frayed or showing other signs of damage? If so, don’t use them. Damaged cords may have exposed wires that can be a fire and shock hazard in the home.
  • Are any of the cords pinched by furniture or in windows or doors? Is so, move them. Pinching cords can cause damage to the insulation.
  • Are any of the cords attached to anything with nails or staples? If so, remove the nails or staples and, if you see damage to the cord, replace it. Nails and staples can cut or pinch the insulation.
  • Are any of the cords kept wrapped up while being used? If so, unwrap them and make sure they are not damaged. Wrapped cords can trap heat, which can lead to melting or weakening of the insulation. That is also a fire hazard.
  • Are all appliance cords placed so they will not come into contact with hot surfaces? Cords can melt or burn from excessive heat. This can expose wires and lead to a fire or shock hazard.
  • And a final check on your lamps: Are you using the proper wattage bulb? A bulb with wattage higher than recommended may overheat the light fixture, wiring or nearby combustible material. That is also a fire hazard.

Keep these tips in mind. Your friends at GRDA want you to stay safe!

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.