CEO’s Message – May 2024

Don’t Overlook Electrical Safety

Clay R. Fitch

At Wells Rural Electric Company, we frequently refer to our core business function as providing members with safe, reliable, affordable, and carbon-free electricity. 3 of those phrases are heavily talked about because, for several reasons, they are top of mind for us and our members.

When it comes to affordability, we get questions about bills each month. Cost is something most of us are conscious of on a day-to-day basis. When it comes to reliability, there is no mistaking when the power goes out. The recent political landscape has also placed a spotlight on the carbon-free part of that statement that is inescapable in the media.

Safe is sometimes too easy to overlook until a problem presents itself, but there is a reason it is first on the list.

In our industry, safety is life. When you make a mistake in the high-voltage environments our lineworkers work in daily, the outcome can be fatal. For that reason, our lineworkers are highly trained, and they discuss safety on a daily basis. They have meetings, known as tailboards before they start on every project to discuss how the work needs to be done and the potential hazards so everyone is on the same page.

During my career, I’ve sat in too many conferences listening to other CEOs talk about the tragedies they have experienced at their utilities when something goes wrong. I don’t even want to imagine 1 of our employees not coming home to their families. The same goes for our members. We want you to be safe as well.

May is National Electrical Safety Month. I hope you will see some of our communications— including in this issue of Ruralite—or somebody else’s, and give them a few moments of your attention that could come in handy when an electrical hazard or problem is suddenly staring you in the face.

For example, do you know what to do if your car strikes a power pole and comes in contact with a power line? First off, if you ever come across a downed line or equipment, treat it as if it is energized. Electricity has no sound or smell and it is always better to stay a safe distance away and call 911.

Similarly, if you are in a vehicle that strikes a power pole and causes lines to come down, do not get out of your vehicle. Electricity is always looking for a path to ground and, if lines are in contact with your vehicle, that path may be your foot when you step out. If your vehicle is smoking or on fire and you must escape, you want to hop out and away from the vehicle and land on both feet, then shuffle or hop to safety.

That is 1 of many situations most of us don’t think about, yet knowing what to do can save lives.

Electricity is a wonderful necessity that powers our lives. It is also something that needs to be respected. Do not allow safety to be something you overlook. I hope you will spend some time this month, and every month, reading and learning habits that could save a life.

Best wishes,

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer