Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) and the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) are sending crews to Oklahoma to help with power restoration efforts in that state in the wake of power outages following a widespread ice storm earlier in the week.
NPPD reported that two supervisors and twelve line technicians will leave Friday morning from NPPD’s York Operations Center with the necessary vehicles and equipment to provide mutual aid in power restoration.
Crews will be working to assist Oklahoma Gas & Electric, which had a reported 246,000 customers without electricity as of Thursday morning. OG&E is a subsidiary of investor-owned OGE Energy Corp.
Line technicians responding will be from NPPD operations in Ainsworth, Ogallala, Scottsbluff, Kearney, O’Neill, Norfolk, Plattsmouth, Atkinson, Humboldt, and Rushville.
Mark Becker, a spokesman for NPPD, detailed what types of precautions the NPPD crews will be taking to minimize potential exposure to COVID-19.
“First of all, our crews will limit any interaction with the public. Emphasis on our crews would be to be wearing masks and practicing social distancing (including amongst themselves),” he noted in an email.
“Crews will also have a supply of hand sanitizers and other materials that can be used in cleaning cabs of vehicles and other equipment where necessary. We also have some established protocols for hotel rooms as well,” he said.
When asked whether he could provide an estimate on how long the NPPD crews will be deployed to Oklahoma, Becker said, “Our management has committed and will be packed for seven days of work.”
Meanwhile, OPPD reported that on Thursday morning, 15 of its employees left Omaha for Oklahoma City. OPPD will also be assisting OG&E.
In its newsletter, The Wire, OPPD reported that the employees on their way to Oklahoma include one field supervisor, 12 line technicians on four, three-man crews and two transportation mechanics. In addition to manpower, OPPD is also bringing four crew leader trucks, four bucket trucks, four digger derricks and other passenger vehicles, according to the article in The Wire.
OPPD also noted that it and other utilities helping with power restoration in Oklahoma will be taking precautions to minimize potential exposure to COVID-19 including single occupancy being used in lodging accommodations.
Public Service Co. of Oklahoma (PSO), a subsidiary of investor-owned American Electric Power, on Oct. 29 reported that it was continuing to respond to weather-related outages across its service area including large portions of western and southwestern Oklahoma.
Outages peaked on Wednesday when more than 36,000 customers were without power at one time, PSO reported.