Restoration crews face added challenges in rural areas

OPPD crews are out in full force during weather-related outages, but those in rural areas have a particularly tough job, which can increase the time it takes to restore power.

“The biggest challenge in the rural is simply logistics,” said Kurt Teten, area field supervisor at OPPD’s Syracuse Service Center.

“Each rural office covers such a great amount of territory that it may be 50 to 60 miles between calls,” he said. “Add in adverse weather conditions and this can mean a two-hour trip.”

As crews go further south within the district’s 13-county territory, they encounter more gravel roads and less developed infrastructure.

“It’s not uncommon to have to travel 15 to 20 miles by road just to move 2 to 3 miles geographically, due to road or bridge conditions. Our trucks weigh 30,000 to 40,000 pounds so we have to be extremely selective when we choose a route.”

Depending on the nature of an outage, it can take several hours or even days to restore power to a handful of customers.

“In some of the more sparsely populated areas, there may be miles of line feeding just a few customers,” Teten said.

“When we work storm restoration, we try to work calls in order of most customers affected to least customers affected.  Unfortunately, that leaves the areas with the lowest population in the dark for a longer period of time.”

With the challenges within the rural areas also come some perks, including closer and more personal relationships with customers.

“Our employees have a great connection with the customers and a strong commitment to supply reliable and affordable energy,” Teten said. “The customers appreciate the effort that they see from our crews and the crews appreciate the patience the customers show when their power does go out.”

Jodi Baker

About Jodi Baker

Jodi Baker writes stories and shoots videos for The Wire. Jodi was a television news reporter before she came to work for OPPD as a media specialist in 2013. She's married with two children (a boy and a girl) and an allergy-ridden little Cairn Terrier.

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