Safety: a priority for electric co-ops

Chris Meyers
General Manager
Oklahoma Association of
Electric Cooperatives

In the electric utility industry, the month of May has been designated “Electrical Safety Month.” While it is fitting to have a month set apart to reinforce this important message, maintaining a culture of safety is a priority for each of Oklahoma’s electric co-ops, every day of the year. 

Caring for the communities they serve is imperative to electric cooperatives. As an invested partner in your community, your co-op genuinely cares about your family, neighbors and loved ones. This involves making sure that we work in a safe manner and that we help to inform consumers about the importance of safety around electricity. Electric power is a vital commodity, but it is also a powerful force; if not used safely, it can be life-threatening. 

I thought it would be fitting to provide a few helpful reminders regarding potential exposure to electricity:

  • If working with tall ladders, cleaning gutters or trimming trees, or undertaking other projects outside, we remind you to look up for and stay safely away from overhead power lines, including those connected to your home. 
  • If a project involves digging, be sure to call 8-1-1 a few working days in advance to get underground utilities marked (see story on Page 25 for more on digging safely).
  • Help children understand the importance of staying away from electric utility equipment, to never climb trees near power lines, and to fly kites in open spaces safely away from power lines.  
  • Know how to prepare for and stay safe after storms and other natural disasters that could leave behind hidden electrical hazards, such as downed power lines and submerged electrical devices. 

Your co-op doesn’t want anyone to take a chance that could end in a tragic outcome. To learn more, we encourage you to visit www.SafeElectricity.org, where you’ll find life-saving information presented in videos, interactive games for children, online teacher resources and much more.  

We are known for having one of the safest and most reliable electric grids in the world, but we are not going to rest on these laurels. Electric cooperatives value your safety and well-being and we’ll continue to educate co-op consumer-owners on important safety considerations. Our members are worth every effort. OKL Article End

 

The power of rural electrification

Larry Hicks
President
Oklahoma Association of
Electric Cooperatives

It is an honor to take on the position of OAEC board president for the coming year. The Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC) has 30 member-systems across all of Oklahoma, reaching into parts of Texas, Arkansas and Kansas. 

I am a member and board trustee of Red River Valley Rural Electric Association in south-central Oklahoma. I was born and raised in the western part of Love County at Jimtown, which was settled before statehood. In the 1920s, my parents started their married life near the banks of the Red River. They raised seven children, and I was the seventh child. This was nearly 20 years before electricity came to the area. Can you imagine raising the first five of their children and two orphans using wood for heat, cooking on wood stoves and using oil lamps for light?

When the 1930s Depression came, it threw our nation into turmoil. My parents, along with others, went through tremendous hardships, providing food for their families, raising vegetables, milking cows, raising hogs and cattle for meat, chickens for eggs and meat, picking pecans by hand, growing corn, cotton, and plowing with a team of horses. Dad started growing peanuts in the early 1940s. He switched to using a tractor just before the time I was born in 1942. Electric power came in our area in the late ‘30s, and it improved living conditions in revolutionary ways. Rural electrification was such a boost to the countryside, providing unlimited possibilities.

In the last couple of years, Oklahoma’s electric co-ops have had the opportunity to send volunteer linemen to Bolivia and Guatemala to bring first-time electricity to remote villages. Our crews reported this experience made a big change in the way they look at life now and the things we take for granted. I’m grateful that Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives are able to provide that help to families who never had light before, just like my family experienced in the 1930s. 

Electric cooperatives are committed to empowering the communities they serve. I look forward to serving the co-op family in the role of OAEC board president in the year ahead. OKL Article End