New technologies make the electric grid faster, better, smarter.
No radio frequencies are used during any transmission of data gathering to or from any digital meter.
You might not notice when you plug in your toaster or your iron, but the nation’s electric grid is undergoing a revolution – a digital revolution. Recent advances in technology are transforming how we make and move electricity and over time, these changes will greatly improve the efficiency and reliability of electric power.
Some members have had some concerns regarding the safety of this new technology. During the transmission of data to and from these digital meters, Ozark Electric Cooperative uses a power line carrier system that travels over fiber optic cable to gather readings to and from the operations center. No radio frequencies are used during any transmission of data gathering to or from any digital meter.
Serving rural areas brings special challenges. Co-op service territories cover 75 percent of the nation’s landmass, and co-ops serve some of the country’s most rugged and remote regions. New automation software, however, can minimize these difficulties by enabling the utility to manage parts of the system remotely, saving the co-op, including its members, a lot of money.
Here are some of the benefits these upgrades offer our member-consumers:
Reliability. The new digital meters can be interrogated from the operations center to aid in the process of verifying where the actual outage is located and how many members are affected by the outage. Armed with this information, linemen don’t have to spend nearly as much time looking for the cause of an outage, and restoration times decrease.
In addition, new “smart feeder switching” can enable co-ops to reroute power during certain outages, thereby minimizing the number of members who lose power.
Efficiency. Digital meters can provide the member with daily and hourly energy usage. This information can assist the member in finding issues with appliances, safety hazards and other electrical problems. More frequently; however, the data gives consumers a better idea of how they are using electricity and how they can lower their bills.
Digital meters can send electric use data to the co-op, eliminating the need for meter reading, which saves money. Digital meters will improve consistency and accuracy in billing. New technologies can also help the co-op reduce the amount of electricity lost in transmission.
In the longer term, smart grid technology is changing how we use electricity. Armed with more information, consumers will have more control. They will be able to know when and how they are using their electricity, and use that electricity more efficiently.
So in the future, when you use your phone to see if you remembered to turn off your iron, remember that your electric co-op helped bring about the revolution that made that feat possible.
We’ll go out on a limb for you!
Right-of-Way program important to system reliability and your safety.
Spring heralds some annual traditions for most of us - like a drive with family to enjoy the budding spring foliage when the dogwoods and redbuds are in bloom or even planting new trees in our own yards. But there can be a drawback to this natural beauty - trees growing in and near utility lines can cause power interruptions. While we all enjoy the beauty trees add to our region, we think you would agree that we also want the comfort of knowing power will be available when it is needed. That’s where our right-of-way maintenance comes in.
Where we’re working. Ozark Electric Cooperative’s right-of-way maintenance work plan for 2015 includes a total of 800 miles of spraying. Independent contractors will be applying herbicides to the rights-of-way along the power lines that feed out of the following substations: Ash Grove, Bowers Mill, and Elsey. Also, in the next three years, we will be cutting 1,200 miles of right of way. If you see the crews working in your area, we ask you to remember that the important work they are doing is what keeps a safe, reliable, and affordable supply of power flowing to your home or business year round.
Reliable power. At Ozark Electric Cooperative, we’re committed to providing you with reliable, safe power. There are some power interruptions we can’t stop - high winds, ice storms, vehicles colliding with utility poles, and even squirrels and birds getting into our lines - but we do what we can to prevent other outage culprits. Weather-related events cause the majority of power outages - 19 percent according to a survey by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. But vegetation (trees, shrubs, brush) growing too close to power lines and distribution equipment leads to 15 percent of power interruptions.
Safe power. Reliability is not the only thing we are concerned with here at Ozark Electric. Safety is a HUGE issue! Do you have children or grandchildren that like to climb trees? If so, power lines growing in trees can be deadly to those loved ones if they come into contact with them or step on a tree branch that makes contact with a nearby power line.
Cutting back. Therefore, to “cut back” on potential tree-related power reliability and safety concerns, Ozark Electric Cooperative operates an aggressive right-of-way maintenance program. It’s a job that’s never done — by the time crews finish cutting and spraying along Ozark Electric’s more than 4,000 miles of distribution lines, vegetation has already started to grow back at the starting point. Therefore, an ongoing right-of-way maintenance work plan rotation is used.
We need your cooperation. Existing trees that grow into power line rights-of-way will eventually have to be trimmed, cut away, or sprayed in order to avoid power blinks, outages, and safety issues. Therefore, we ask you to please be proactive. Before planting trees and bushes in your yard, think about how tall they may grow and how wide their branches may spread. Ozark Electric Cooperative requires a clearance zone beneath and 15 FEET on each side of a power line. Choose tree varieties with care and plant with power lines in mind. Carefully selected and placed trees using the Tree Planting Guide (see “Safety Sense” link below then click on “Right of Way”) create a beautiful landscape, provide shade in the warm months thereby reducing your electric bills, and decrease the need for right-of-way maintenance which can be very costly to your Cooperative and ultimately to you.
Call 811. And don’t forget power lines are not just overhead. Be sure to call 811 or 1-800-DIG-RITE to locate underground utility lines FREE of charge before you start digging. Underground utility lines can be very dangerous to you if you hit one when digging or costly if you damage one and have to replace it.
Call us. To report vegetation you see growing into our power lines or if you have any questions about what type of trees to plant this Spring and where to place them, give our right-of-way department a call at 417-466-2268. We will go out on a limb for you!