The excess weight of ice causes tree limbs to “bow down,” often breaking and falling onto power lines. The weight of the ice can even be damaging enough for the power line to break itself.
Ice Storm Knocks Out Power to 9,000 Co-op Members, LIVINGSTON, March 7, 2014 – A late season ice storm earlier this week left folks in East Texas wondering if their calendars were correct: “Is this March?”
The evening of March 3, a winter storm blew through the southern part of Sam Houston Electric Cooperative’sservice territory, leaving a thick blanket of ice on power lines and trees.
The excess weight of the ice caused tree limbs to break and fall onto power lines. In some cases, the weight of the ice buildup directly on power lines was enough to cause significant damage.
In the early morning hours of March 4, power interruptions grew as limbs gave way to the ice. At the day’s peak, more than 9,000 Sam Houston EC members were without power. Outages were scattered predominately across Liberty, Hardin, Montgomery and San Jacinto Counties.
“We love our trees here in East Texas,” said Sam Houston Electric Cooperative CEO Kyle J. Kuntz. “Those trees, however, especially the pine trees, cause a lot of damage to our lines when ice builds up on them. The tree can fall, or the limbs can break, falling onto power lines.”
“Fortunately, our rights-of-way are well maintained, which reduces the number of outages that would otherwise occur following a severe weather event such as this week’s ice storm,” Kuntz added.
Additional contract crews, as well as crews from Deep East Electric Cooperative, were called in to help aid power restoration. All but a handful of members were safely able to receive power less than 24 hours after the storm’s arrival.
“We are thankful for the extra crews who came to assist in the restoration effort, and I am particularly proud of all the Sam Houston employees who worked long hours, in sometimes dangerous conditions, to restore power to our members,” Kuntz said.
Sam Houston EC received its charter May 16, 1939, and has been providing electricity to East Texas ever since. The Cooperative was founded by a handful of farmers and rural residents who dreamed of bringing “power to the people.” In the early 1940s, there were just over 600 Co-op members.
Today, Sam Houston EC serves 52,000 members and 69,000 meters across parts of 10 counties.
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