Mutual Aid is another important aspect of being part of the Nebraska’s Rural Electric Association. What is “Mutual Aid”? Mutual Aid is an agreement with all of the public power districts and the cooperatives in Nebraska. That agreement basically states that you will assist, when possible, any of the Nebraska utilities during times of a disaster to restore power. This assistance is done at cost and it is provided to restore power to priority customers (residential).
The major snow storm that hit the central part of Nebraska on April 30th left several thousand people without power. The snow and high winds left most east and west lines in the McCook Public Power District and Twin Valleys PPD with hundreds of broken poles, conductors, and crossarms.
McCook PPD reached out to Midwest Electric during the storm asking for help to restore power to their system. At the time, it was believed they had about 200 poles on the ground and hundreds of customers without power and it would take days to restore power to their homes. Midwest asked for volunteers with the restoration work. We were able to send two crews with three men each along with a couple of bucket trucks, two digger derricks and our tracked Bobcat with a pole setter. The men worked 15 to 16 hour days and were released on Thursday with the last of their residential customers receiving power.
Twin Valleys also received much needed help from neighboring utilities and others as far as 200 miles away. They worked long hours and were able to get the power restored to the last residential customer one week later on Saturday evening.
This Mutual Aid does not put their systems back to normal. There will be many months of clean up and line rebuilding. It does get the members out of the survival mode and allow them to get on with their lives. Without assistance, many of the restorations would take weeks and months, not just days. This is another benefit of being “Public Power”.