Maintaining Your Power

Year-round operations by line crews ensure safe, reliable power for members

Photo of power lines with dusk in the background
There’s more to powering the community than flipping a switch. Photo by Evening-tao/Freepik

Wells Rural Electric Co. line crews overcome several challenges to ensure safe, reliable electricity is almost always available to power our members’ lives.

While WREC realizes tremendous benefits from the federal hydropower resources in the Pacific Northwest, the cooperative also sits at the end of a long transmission system. Our crews are responsible for maintaining and operating more than 1,400 miles of energized line weaving through 10,000 square miles of service territory. That’s a lot of line covering a lot of ground.

Despite those challenges—and the fact that WREC crews do not control the weather or transmission issues outside of our system—the average WREC member goes without power for less than .001 percent of any given year.

That’s the product of several factors, not the least of which is a comprehensive preventive maintenance plan operations employees execute year-round.

WREC’s crews constantly patrol power lines and use system data to identify potential problem areas so they can make repairs or upgrades and prevent an outage.

This summer, WREC crews and contractors are working on several projects and system upgrades that will improve the reliability and quality of service members receive.

One of the bigger projects is in Ruby Valley. It is a continuation of upgrades that started last summer. WREC is replacing another 100 old poles with new poles—for a total of 200 between 2017 and 2018—and shortening line spans and increasing conductor spacing. That project started in June. It is scheduled to wrap up by the end of August.

Crews also are replacing shallow underground cable in the Mary’s Mountain area through August.

Starting in late summer or fall, WREC will upgrade street lighting in Carlin to improve efficiency and light quality.

Finally, WREC will replace transmission poles on the “69 Line” that are weathered or have been damaged by woodpeckers. That project will start September 15 and run through October.

Some of these projects will help improve reliability in more remote areas, while others will improve the quality of service for entire communities.

While it might seem like a simple process, these projects are great examples that a lot more work goes into turning on a lightbulb than flipping a switch.