GRDA Power For Progress Column July 23, 2019

Jul 24, 2019

Power for Progress…
A weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority

Maintaining reliability, mile by mile

Summer time means mowing time for most of us across Oklahoma, and it’s certainly no different for the Grand River Dam Authority. However, one thing that is different is the amount of ground to cover. With over 1,200 miles of rights-of-way (ROW) located beneath its high voltage transmission lines in Northeast Oklahoma, GRDA has a lot of vegetation management responsibilities, especially this time of year. Those miles of ROW have to be mowed, cleared and maintained on a regular basis to make sure that no power outages are caused by falling tree limbs or out of control vegetation.

The task of doing all that work falls to the GRDA Vegetation Management Department. In a typical season, it will clear 500 miles of ROW, beginning as soon as the weather permits and staying after it throughout the summer growing season. Pairing off in two-man specialized crews, the department tackles the work with tractors, spray rigs and other heavy equipment geared towards mowing and trimming.

Each crew member is certified, licensed and experienced to perform the job at hand and this time of year they put all that knowledge to work along the rights-of-way and beneath GRDA’s miles and miles of high voltage power lines. The work is critical to GRDA’s overall mission because a well-maintained ROW, and well-maintained substation sites not only cut down on the possibility of outages due to brush and limbs but it also means allow for greater accessibility for GRDA’s power line maintenance crews. All the work done by the department is really guided by regulations set forth by agencies like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).

Getting the job done requires a lot of knowledge, a steady hand and a good internal compass. After all, some of the ROW paths wind around, up and down hills and hollows and through some rugged country in parts of Northeast Oklahoma. Power lines do not always follow the simplest of paths, but rather go where the power is needed and that means often stretching across miles of this difficult terrain.

The Vegetation Management Department’s efforts to keep the paths clear, even in that difficult terrain, is a critical part of GRDA’s larger efforts to maintain electric reliability.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency.

Photo Caption Information:  Rights-of-way and reliability… A GRDA Vegetation Management Department employee makes his way along a GRDA right-of-way with a spray rig. During the spring and summer months, when the vegetation is typically the heaviest, the crew clears roughly 500 miles of rights-of-way to help GRDA maintain the reliable flow of electricity across its system.