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OCEC Implements Measures to Help Prevent Fires

Spring time in New Mexico usually brings high winds, warmer temperatures and dry conditions.Unfortunately, that also brings about an increased fire danger for most of the service territory. OCEC operations personnel have implemented some enhanced safety measures in response to these conditions in an effort to ensure that electrical equipment damage or repair efforts does not contribute to the current fire danger.

OCEC has an ongoing right-of-way maintenance program to manage vegetation posing a threat to power lines. Our line crews and contractors work throughout the year to keep trees, tree limbs and other obstacles away from high-voltage power lines. The forest landscape that makes this area such a beautiful place for us to live and work can make this a task of great proportions, but an important part of providing you, our members, with safe, reliable and affordable electricity. Not only do we rely on co-op employees for recognizing hazards, we look to members to notify us of large branches or hazard trees that could potentially fall through the lines on a windy day. If you encounter these situations, please call to report them, so we can check it out.

In addition to vegetation management, OCEC has taken an extra step to minimize the risk of a fire. A recloser is an automatic high-voltage electric switch that operates much like a circuit breaker in your home. When a household breaker trips, it will remain off until it is manually reset. A recloser will test the electrical line to determine whether the trouble has been removed. And, if the problem was only temporary, the recloser automatically resets itself and restores electric power. The operation of this breaker is sometimes seen as a blink at your home. To mitigate the risk of a fire on days when winds are high or there are red-flag warnings, OCEC will place the reclosers on non-reclose so the breakers operate and the line stays open at the first sign of a fault so power lines are less likely to be the cause of a fire.

When these breakers operate causing an outage, line crews will do extra patrols of the affected section of line to make sure there are no trees or limbs touching the electrical equipment before giving an all-clear to re-energize the power line.

Having these protective devices open at the first sign of a fault may cause more frequent and longer outages for some. We hope our members will understand and ask that you be patient when these outages occur. The benefits of the extra patrol time far out weigh the risks of not performing the expanded inspection.


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