Prepared to respond

Feb 08, 2022

ROW in the snow … Snow covers a GRDA right-of-way (ROW) in this photo from a few years back. While the recent round of wintry precipitation had no real impact on the Grand River Dam Authority’s ability to deliver reliable electricity, Team GRDA is ready to respond when heavy snow and ice may disrupt the system.

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

The winter weather that moved across Northeast Oklahoma the first week of February had no real impact on the Grand River Dam Authority’s ability to deliver reliable electricity to its customers. However, days ahead of the weather event, with a forecast of possible heavy winter precipitation, GRDA crews began preparing and reviewing storm response plans. The team was ready for the weather challenge which, this time, did not come.

Of course, with over 1,200 miles of high-voltage lines and hundreds of substations in the state, GRDA certainly has a lot of infrastructure to maintain. And while it has been proven time and again that no system can be completely protected from weather extremes, GRDA does have ongoing efforts to help prepare for those times.

The GRDA Vegetation Management Department clears roughly 500 miles of GRDA rights-of-way along power lines each year, beginning as soon as the weather permits in the spring and continuing through the busy summer growing season. The work is critical to GRDA’s overall mission because a well-maintained ROW not only cuts down on the possibility of outages due to brush and limbs that could fall in high winds or ice storms, but it also allows for greater accessibility for GRDA’s power line maintenance crews when they must respond to storm damage. All the work done by the department is guided by regulations set forth by agencies like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).

Inside GRDA’s Energy Control Center, NERC-certified system operators can keep a real-time eye on every point of the entire energy delivery system. That is possible because of GRDA’s Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system and other equipment dedicated to gathering information, and it is critical to have in times of weather troubles.  Often, if damage does occur, system operators can reroute electricity deliveries around those areas. When those redundancies exist, it allows for quicker restoration of power to the customer or sometimes, no real power interruption at all.

Of course, experienced personnel are also vital to protecting or restoring the system during weather troubles. At GRDA, every phase of the process – from engineering, planning and design to electricity delivery and powerline and substation maintenance – is governed by the NERC standards for reliable electric service. GRDA’s goal is not only to meet those standards, but also to always maintain its reputation for reliability.

Weather extremes will always be a reality in Oklahoma, but ongoing maintenance efforts, state-of-the-art systems and experienced, dedicated personnel are ready to respond.

GRDA is Oklahoma’s largest public power 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.